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Posts tagged: redistricting

Popkey: Firing attempt backfired, cementing bipartisan redistricting panel

Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey reports on a “frank postmortem” of this year's Idaho redistricting process offered by members of the bipartisan redistricting commission this week, as they received an award from the Boise City Club. “The adversity that we had bound us together even more so,” GOP commissioner Sheila Olsen told the group; GOP leaders tried unsuccessfully to fire two of their appointees during the process. You can read Popkey's full column here.

Second bipartisan redistricting commission honored with City Club civic engagement award

All six members of Idaho's second bipartisan reapportionment commission that this year successfully drew new legislative and congressional district lines are being honored with the Dottie & Ed Stimpson Award for Civic Engagement by the City Club of Boise. In bestowing the award, the club noted that the previous bipartisan commission “broke down amidst intense partisan and regional discord,” but the second commission quickly reached agreement, and then, when its first effort was struck down in court, even more quickly settled on new district lines that passed legal muster. “Their efforts represent civic engagement at its best,” the City Club declared in its invitation to the award ceremony and celebration, which will be June 6 from 5-8 p.m. at the Esther Simplot Center for Performing Arts; there's more information here. Tickets to the celebration are $25.

The commission's six members are Democrats Ron Beitelspacher, Shauneen Grange and Elmer Martinez, and Republicans Dolores Crow, Randy Hansen and Sheila Olsen.

Why Reps. Hagedorn and Patrick are looking to run for the Senate…

Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, says he decided that he'll run for the Senate next year because the new redistricting plan left his new district with three House incumbents and an open Senate seat. “There's three of us in the same district now, and we all three talked about it and who would be best to do what and what everybody's desires were,” Hagedorn said. The other two lawmakers in his new district are House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, who's in his seventh term, and first-term Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle.

Hagedorn, a third-term lawmaker and retired naval officer, said, “This just appeared to be where we could all contribute the most.”

Rep. Jim Patrick, R-Twin Falls, has made a similar decision, reports Twin Falls Times-News reporter Melissa Davlin on her Capitol Confidential blog here. Patrick landed in the new District 25, along with Reps. Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, and Sharon Block, R-Twin Falls; that district initially appeared to take in Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, but Brackett said while his mailing address was in District 25, his actual residence is in the new District 23, which also includes Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home; that leaves an open Senate seat in District 25.

Twin Falls County won’t challenge new redistricting plan

Twin Falls county commissioners have announced that they've decided not to file any further challenge to Idaho's new legislative redistricting plan, though they're not entirely happy with it. The county led an earlier challenge to the Idaho Supreme Court that overturned the previous plan submitted by the state's citizen redistricting commission.

County Prosecutor Grant Loebs said, “It’s not a good plan, but it’s an acceptable one. It’s considerably better than the previous plan that extended Twin Falls districts all the way to Chubbuck.” Click below to read the county's full news release about its decision, reached today.

Redistricters file new plan, May primary election back on track

Idaho's bipartisan citizen redistricting commission has submitted its new legislative district plan, approved on a unanimous 6-0 vote, to Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa. Ysursa, joining the confab by phone from a meeting of the National Association of Secretaries of State, told the commissioners, “I sure want to thank you for all the work you've done.” He quoted Commissioner Sheila Olsen about a “triumph of civility,” and said in his view, that's what occurred in the commission. “We can get going for that May primary,” Ysursa said. “Obviously there could be lawsuits, but I think you've done a commendable job of it. Thank you all for your service.”

When Co-Chairman Ron Beitelspacher offered a quip about the tough leadership of Co-Chairwoman Dolores Crow, Crow responded, “Yeah, I'm a real bear,” and then, amid some prompting and laughter, said, “Oh, yeah, I'm a rhino, I forgot.” Ysursa, a big man who often jokes about his size, said, “Well, I'm a hippo, so you're OK.”

RINO, or “Republican In Name Only,” is the pejorative term some in the GOP have tossed around to apply to party members who aren't sufficiently loyal; House Speaker Lawerence Denney has taken a ton of political heat for trying unsuccessfully to oust former longtime GOP lawmaker and Republican activist Crow from the commission.

Broadsword weighing options in light of new redistricting plan…

Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, says she's weighing her options, now that the new legislative redistricting plan shifts her into a different district, where she wouldn't have to face ally Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, if she ran for another term. “I haven't had a chance to look at what the size of the district is or what it looks like,” Broadsword said. “I have to look at all my options. I've been receiving a lot of encouragement to stay, to please run for the Senate again … so I just have to look at the whole picture.”

Under the new plan, L-93, Broadsword ends up in the new District 7, along with first-term incumbent Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood. The previous district plan, L-87, put both Broadsword and Keough in District 1.  Three members of the House GOP leadership - Majority Leader Mike Moyle of Star, Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke of Oakley and Caucus Chairman Ken Roberts of Donnelly - would face other House incumbents in their districts, under the new plan, but House Speaker Lawerence Denney, who in the last plan landed in a district with five House incumbents, this time wouldn't have to face any other incumbents to keep his seat.

The new legislative district plan has a population deviation among districts of 9.7 percent, which meets the 10 percent standard considered presumptively constitutional; and divides just the minimum number of counties possible - five, plus two, Ada and Kootenai, that are divided only internally because they're large enough for multiple districts. Redistricting commissioners are planning to present it to Secretary of State Ben Ysursa on Monday; you can read my full story here at

Incumbents would face off in 10 districts

Under the new legislative district plan adopted on a unanimous vote today by Idaho's redistricting commission, there are some notable matchups created between incumbents, including some that already would have happened under the previous plan, and some changes.

Among the new contests: Senior Sens. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, and Denton Darrington, R-Declo, both landed in the new District 27, which means they'd have to run against each other if both wanted to remain in the Senate. Also facing potential face-offs with other incumbents: House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, and Rep. Maxine Bell, R-Jerome.

Here are the districts with multiple incumbents under plan L-93:

In District 5, as before, there are three House incumbents and just two seats; the three are Reps. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries; Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow; and Tom Trail, R-Moscow.

In District 8, there are four House incumbents: Reps. Barrett, Bilbao, Roberts and Thayn. No longer in that district: House Speaker Lawerence Denney, who now lands in District 9 along with Rep. Judy Boyle; there's no incumbent face-off forced there.

In District 11, there are two incumbent senators: Sens. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, and Melinda Smyser, R-Parma.

District 14 has three incumbent House members and two seats; they're House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star; Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle; and Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian.

District 15 also has three House incumbents, Reps. Max Black, R-Boise; Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise; and Elfreda Higgins, D-Garden City, who earlier announced she doesn't plan to seek another term.

District 16 has two incumbent senators, Sens. Andreason and Bock.

District 20, as before, has two incumbent senators, Sens. Shirley McKague and Chuck Winder.

In District 25, Reps. Maxine Bell, R-Jerome; Sharon Block, R-Twin Falls; and Jim Patrick, R-Twin Falls; all land in the same district.

District 27 has three House incumbents: Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke, R-Oakley; House Resources Chairman Bert Stevenson, R-Rupert; and Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley. It also has two incumbent senators: Cameron and Darrington.

District 30, as before, also has three House incumbents, Reps. McGeachin, Simpson and Thompson.


Sens. Keough and Broadsword no longer in same new legislative district

Sens. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, and Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, are no longer in the same district in the new legislative redistricting plan, Plan. L-93. Keough lands in the new District 1, but Broadsword ends up in the new District 7, along with Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood.

Broadsword had earlier said she'd retire from the Senate rather than seek a fifth term next year by running against Keough, a close ally and eight-term senator. Nuxoll is a first-term senator.

Redistricters adopt new legislative plan

Idaho's bipartisan citizen redistricting commission has agreed on a new legislative plan, dubbed L-93; it's now up online on the commission's website. The six-member commission voted unanimously in favor of the new plan. “What we did was we revised L-87 at the direction of the Supreme Court,” said commission Co-Chair Ron Beitelspacher.

He said, “Unfortunately, in my opinion, but at the direction of the Supreme Court, we combined a small part of Bonner County with Shoshone County.” A chunk of southeastern Bonner County, with the dividing line running along Highway 95 and then turning east at Pend Oreille Lake, joins Shoshone County and points south in the new District 7. Beitelspacher said that's among three very large districts included in the plan, and he's not happy about that. “I represented a huge district for several years, and I know how difficult it is for the representer and for the represented,” he said. “I'm not in favor of what we've done” on those large districts.” But, he said, “This is what the Supreme Court has said we have to do.”

The other two large districts are District 8, which includes all of Valley, Gem, Boise, Lemhi and Custer counties; and another in southeastern Idaho that includes Teton, Caribou, Bear Lake, Franklin and Oneida counties and part of Bonneville County. “It's horrible - I think it's horrible,” Beitelspacher said. The new District 8 stretches from a point 11 miles from the Oregon border all the way to the Montana line.

A number of districts remained the same as they were in L-87; those include virtually all of Ada County; Latah and Benewah counties, which form the new District 5; Nez Perce and Lewis counties; and more.

Semanko won’t seek another term as GOP chairman, defends redistricting move, touts party successes

Idaho Republican Party Chairman Norm Semanko has sent out a guest opinion defending his attempt to try to fire GOP redistricting commissioner Randy Hansen, touting the party's Idaho electoral successes and announcing that he won't seek another term as party chairman. Semanko wrote that the “secret to our success” was that “the grassroots of our Party was motivated and energized to recruit candidates and support them because they were included, and we weren't shy about standing up for our core, conservative Republican principles.” He wrote, “As I conclude my four year tenure as Chairman and hand the reins over to someone else at the Republican State Convention in Twin Falls this summer, this will be my proudest accomplishment.” Click below to read his full guest opinion.

Redistricters making progress, could agree on plan today…

Idaho's redistricting commission has convened again this afternoon after a lunch break, and plans to meet in open session all afternoon and work on its legislative district plan. “You will know exactly what we do,” said Co-Chair Dolores Crow. The bipartisan commission has a working copy of its plan that's basically the previous plan, L-87, with revisions to it to try to limit it to no more than seven county splits, including splitting Ada and Kootenai counties internally only. It's possible they could reach agreement on a new plan today.

In North Idaho, the major change is that a chunk of southeastern Bonner County would be paired with Shoshone County and points south in a legislative district, rather than with northern Kootenai County, to avoid splitting any part of Kootenai County off into another district with other counties. “The Supreme Court has said we've got to keep Kootenai whole,” said Co-Chairman Ron Beitelspacher. “So we've got to figure out exactly where in the devil we're going to take it from.” Pointing to the map, Beitelspacher said, “There are no roads from Shoshone County into Bonner County here,” though a state statute requires road connections. “If we move with this, we're going to have to pass a motion to suspend that with at least five votes.”

Redistricters back at work…

Idaho's six citizen redistricting commissioners have been working straight through since 9 this morning, either in small working groups or as a full commission; they worked through lunch, while reviewing all seven of the plans that already have been submitted to the commission that have the minimum number of county splits - five. (The way the Idaho Supreme Court counted it, it's seven - five with external splits, and two, Ada and Kootenai, that must have internal splits due to their population, without any district lines crossing their borders.) The five that mathematically must be split are Bonner, Canyon, Twin, Bonneville and Bannock. The seven plans that meet that criteria include five submitted previously, and two new ones from Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs and from Don Rosebrock; here, the commissioners look at the final two.

In North Idaho, the result is likely to include something similar to the previous big District 7 from Plan L-87, except instead of taking in a chunk of Kootenai County, the sprawling district likely would have to take the portion of Bonner County that doesn't join Boundary County in District 1. Asked if there's any way to avoid a district that runs from Bonner County all the way south to the southern Idaho County line, commission Co-Chairman Ron Beitelspacher said, “You'd have to talk to the Supreme Court justices.” He said, “My job's not to second-guess the Supreme Court, my job is to follow the law.” He added, “If you go to 30 districts (vs. the current 35), then there are some ways to have fewer counties split, but that's a big jump for those rural areas.”

After a short break, the commissioners are going to reconvene to go over the required county splits, then head back into small groups to draw district lines. They'll reconvene at 5 today to see what's next, but they've got meetings scheduled through next week. Said Beitelspacher, “We will not stop until we get this done.”

Redistricting: Minimizing county splits now is ‘an absolute’

Secretary of State Ben Ysursa told Idaho's citizen redistricting commission as it reconvened this morning, “This commission has a solemn duty to redistrict the state of Idaho, and I wish you well in your deliberations and will support you 100 percent.”

Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane told the commission, “Based on what the Supreme Court has said, one-person, one-vote still has to be at the top of the list. … County splits now have to be minimized, and we have clear direction on that. … In my reading of that case, that is an absolute.” The court was so firm on that point, he said, that by its ruling, the proposed plan submitted by Twin Falls County would be unconstitutional, because it unnecessarily split Teton County. Kane said including internal splits, mathematically, in any 35-district legislative plan, “You can't avoid splitting seven counties.”

Denney, Semanko say they’re ‘continuing to evaluate legal options’

The Idaho Republican Party has released this statement this morning from House Speaker Lawerence Denney and state party Chairman Norm Semanko:

“Unfortunately, the Idaho Supreme Court was unable to reach the merits of the case yesterday, opting instead to dismiss it on procedural grounds. As a result, the Court did not decide whether the Redistricting Commissioners can, in fact, be replaced. We are hopeful that the Court will have the opportunity to address the issue in the near future and are continuing to evaluate our legal options as we review the decision. In the meantime, the Commission will reconvene today with a cloud of uncertainty continuing to hang over it with regard to the ultimate legality of any new plan that it may adopt. That is the unfortunate reality of yesterday’s ruling.”

Redistricters to convene at 9

Idaho's bipartisan citizen redistricting commission meets at 9 this morning in room C110 of the Capitol; thanks to Idaho Public Television, you can listen live here. According to its agenda, from 9:05 to 10:30, it'll hear from Brian Kane of the Idaho Attorney General's office and discuss recent Supreme Court action. From 10:45 to noon, it'll review plans already submitted that have minimal county splits. After a noon to 1 p.m. lunch break, it'll spend the afternoon working in small groups on possible legislative district lines.

Redistricting fracas divides Idaho GOP

Here's a link to our full story at on today's drama over redistricting, with the timing of the state's primary election hanging in the balance and the fracas dividing Idaho's supermajority Republican Party. The Idaho Supreme Court stepped in today, halting a move by House Speaker Lawerence Denney and Idaho GOP Chairman Norm Semanko to fire the two GOP redistricting commissioners they'd earlier appointed and replace them with new ones. Denney told the Associated Press late Wednesday that he planned no further challenges. “If that's their decision, we'll just move ahead,” he said; the commission reconvenes on Thursday morning.

Statehouse reactions: ‘She bleeds Republican,’ ‘Always a fracas on reapportionment’

The first-floor rotunda of the State house was packed just now for a reception honoring longtime University of Idaho chief lobbyist Marty Peterson upon his retirement; the talk of the crowd as it milled around, amid congratulations to Peterson, was this afternoon's Idaho Supreme Court decision tossing the redistricting petition from House Speaker Lawerence Denney and Idaho GOP Chairman Norm Semanko. State Tax Commission Chairman Bob Geddes, a former Senate president pro-tem, said he had some sympathy with the two for filing their petition to try to oust two redistricting commissioners. “I think those appointees serve at the will of the people who appointed them,” Geddes said. But he said he also agreed with former Gov. Phil Batt's comments in a guest opinion today that party leaders were trying to “sully the reapportionment process for more political gain.” Said Geddes, “I don't necessarily disagree with the governor on that issue.”

Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, said, “I'm glad that the Supreme Court acted expeditiously. I certainly respect that Norm Semanko and the speaker have their opinions, but I disagree with those opinions. I've worked with Dolores Crow in her years here, and she bleeds Republican, so I'm astounded at the actions that were taken there. I think they did the right thing in ignoring partisan politics and acting on the numbers.”

Lt. Gov. Brad Little said, based on his work helping the governor with appointments, “There's some appointments that say 'at the pleasure of,' and there's other appointments that have a different hurdle. Without doing the research, I would've said it's in the latter category.” But he added, “There's always a fracas on reapportionment.”

Rep. Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls, said, “Just my initial thought, if I was that person and the person that appointed me was so unhappy with me, wanted me out, I would (quit).” She said, “We just all want to have it be decided, and know what we're dealing with.”

Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, said, “I'm glad the Supreme Court resolved it in an expeditious manner. My concern is any action that would delay the commission from getting the work done, and the impact it was having on the whole election process and pressure to move the election back. … We can get on with our business for the benefit of our constituents.”

Idaho Supreme Court dismisses petition from Denney and Semanko

The Idaho Supreme Court has issued an order denying the petition from House Speaker Lawerence Denney and Idaho GOP Chairman Norm Semanko asking the court to order Secretary of State Ben Ysursa to declare two vacancies on the state's citizen redistricting commission; you can read the order here. The court essentially ruled that Denney and Semanko hadn't come up with sufficient legal reasons why the court should take that action; this means their challenge is dead, and the citizen redistricting commission is good to go as-is; it's scheduled to meet tomorrow morning at 9. “Petitioners failed to file a brief showing a clear right to the relief sought under statute or constitution of the state of Idaho,” the justices wrote, in an order signed by Chief Justice Roger Burdick.

Denney and Semanko wanted to replace the two GOP commissioners, Dolores Crow of Nampa and Randy Hansen of Twin Falls, that they had chosen for the commission; now both can serve.

Former Gov. Batt weighs in - strongly - on redistricting dispute…

Former Idaho Gov. Phil Batt, who also is a former Idaho state GOP chairman and widely considered the architect of the party's dominance in the state, has submitted a guest opinion to the Idaho Statesman newspaper decrying the moves by current party Chairman Norm Semanko and House Speaker Lawerence Denney to fire two GOP redistricting commissioners, reports Idaho Statesman editorialist Kevin Richert. “Now our party leaders want to sully the reapportionment process for more political gain. I guess they want 100 percent Republicans of their own variety (Dolores and I probably don’t qualify),” Batt writes. “But I predict that Republican dominance in Idaho will decline rather than grow if we say neutrality has no place in reapportionment, and that the commission must do it our way or else.” You can read Richert's full post here, which includes Batt's full guest opinion, submitted today.

Another tidbit from the former governor's piece: “Labeling Dolores Crow as a RINO is ridiculous. She has been a steel-tough Republican and is just trying to do what she was appointed to do — to produce a plan based on facts and not on politics.”

GOP wants Supreme Court to order Ysursa to declare redistricting vacancies

About half an hour ago, House Speaker Lawerence Denney and Idaho GOP Chairman Norm Semanko filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus in the Idaho Supreme Court, calling on the court to “immediately” order Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa to declare two vacancies on the Idaho citizens redistricting commission, and then recognize their new appointees for those spots; the two said they'd asked Ysursa to declare such vacancies but he'd refused, citing the legal advice of the Idaho Attorney General, who provided him with a legal opinion saying commissioners can't be removed. You can read the GOP court filing here. It's not clear yet how the high court will react; it could request a response from Ysursa, the respondent to the complaint, or it could just issue a ruling.

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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