SALEM, Ore. – Former Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno and three other Republicans have filed a lawsuit to challenge new congressional districts recently passed by state lawmakers.
They say the new maps are partisan gerrymandering, unconstitutional and contrary to state law.
Oregon Public Broadcasting reports the suit, filed Monday in Marion County Circuit Court, is the first such attempt to alter the six-district map that Democrats pushed through during a contentious special legislative session last month.
That session nearly ended in a Republican walkout after House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, reneged on a deal to grant the GOP an equal say in new congressional and legislative maps.
Instead, Republican lawmakers showed up on the last possible day and allowed Democrats to pass a map that could lead to Democratic control of five of the state’s now-six seats in Congress. Oregon picked up an additional U.S. House seat because of population gains recorded by the recent U.S. Census.
Clarno, the secretary of state until this year, was joined by three other former Republican officials: Gary Wilhelms of Portland, a former House Republican leader; James Wilcox, former mayor of The Dalles; and Larry Campbell of Eugene, a former House speaker.
They argue that Democrats’ handling of the process harms them “by frustrating their ability to vote for and campaign for congressional candidates who share their values, and who share their views on issues such as gun rights, transportation, and water rights.”
The suit notes that four of the state’s six new congressional districts include part of the Portland area, which they say is a sign Democrats improperly stocked the districts with left-leaning voters.
They have asked the court to block the plan and draw its own.
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