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Eye On Boise

Simpson praises redistricting commission’s work, ‘hope it’s a model’

Idaho 2nd District Congressman Mike Simpson addresses the Idaho Environmental Forum in Boise on Tuesday. (Betsy Russell)
Idaho 2nd District Congressman Mike Simpson addresses the Idaho Environmental Forum in Boise on Tuesday. (Betsy Russell)

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, who represents the 2nd Congressional District, was asked at the end of his talk to the Idaho Environmental Forum today about what he thinks of Idaho's new congressional districts, which just took effect today. "Love it," he said quickly to laughter.

He added, "We didn't really participate in that," and recounted how when he was Idaho House speaker and the late Jerry Twiggs was Senate president pro-tem, both had been through the 1990 reapportionment. "It was ugly, and there were 105 legislators trying to protect themselves," he said. "We decided ... we were going to put together a commission like some other states had done, because we were going to take the politics out of reapportionment." Amid laughter, he said, "You can't take the politics out of reapportionment."

"Nevertheless, I think the second commission did a great job, and I hope it's a model that'll be used by commissions in the future," Simpson said, "to sit down, don't care where people live, don't care if you run incumbents against incumbents. Reapportion it so that it makes sense, which is what I think they did."

As for the congressional district lines, he said, "That should be a pretty easy one - we've only got two congressional districts in Idaho. Go to Ohio where they're reducing two seats - it's getting kind of ugly there." He said the new district plan, which simply moves the dividing line in Ada County to the west, "to me makes more sense than some of the other proposals." He said, "I would ask people, would you rather have one representative who cares about Boise and needs to care about Boise, or two? So actually splitting Ada County, that's OK, and it's evenly split down the middle. ... It's worked in the past, and I've always appreciated having Boise in our district."

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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