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Mon., Sept. 27, 2010, 4:18 p.m.

WA may add a congressional seat

Washington state could be in line for a new congressional district when the numbers from the 2010 Census become final.
A private organization that analyzes census, election and political data said Monday the state could just make the cut for adding a seat if the once-per-decade national headcount comes out as expected.
That would give Washington 10 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and give the state Redistricting Commission more to do than just adjust the current nine congressional districts and 49 legislative districts...

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Based on the most recent population estimates, Washington state should have about 6,756,000 people. That could put it in line to get the 434th seat in the House, Election Data Services Inc. said. The House has 435.
Congress uses a complicated formula for determining the number of residents required for a seat, but the company believes Washington should be over the requirement by about 13,000 people, and be one of six states that gets a new seat. Florida will likely get two new seats and Texas four; New York and Ohio should each lose two and eight other states would lose one, based on the company’s estimates.
According to Patrick McDonald of the Secretary of State's office, Washington started with one seat in the House at statehood, added its second after the 1890 Census, so the state was basically split into an Eastern and Western district. It got a third after the 1900 Census, although a dispute kept it from being added until the 1908 election. It got two from the 1910 Census, one from the 1930 count and one from the 1950 count. Drawing lines for new districts can prove troublesome and those two were at-large districts until 1957 because state leaders couldn't agree on the boundaries. It went to eight after 1980 and nine after 1990. The population growth wasn't large enough to add any after 2000.
The commission that will draw the lines for congressional and legislative districts has five members. One each is appointed by Democratic and Republican leaders in the state Senate and House; those four pick the fifth member. The commission holds public hearings across the state, redraws lines based on set criteria and submits the new boundaries to the Legislature, which can only make slight changes with a two-thirds vote.
The new boundaries will be used for the 2012 elections.
Depending on how the district is drawn, it could result in a huge battle between the parties or a seat that's all but a lock for one side or the other. The 8th District has been solidly Republican since it was added in 1982, and the 9th has been Democratic for all but one term since 1992 (Republican Randy Tate held it for two years after the 1994 GOP surge, but lost to Adam Smith in1996.)
Democrats currently hold six House seats, and Republicans three.

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981. He is currently the political reporter and state government reporter in the newspaper's Olympia bureau office.

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