The Bulletin Board
Congressional district maps en route to governor
Gov. Chris Sununu has not said whether he will sign off on the proposed congressional districts. (Dave Cummings | New Hampshire Bulletin)
Update: 3:11 p.m. Gov. Chris Sununu told a WMUR reporter he will veto the congressional district map passed by the Legislature Thursday.
“The citizens of New Hampshire will not accept this map, which moves both members of Congress into the same district. Our races have to be fair, which is why I will veto this map.”
The House and Senate voted Thursday to approve the latest version of maps that would determine congressional voting districts for the next decade.
Senate Bill 200 cleared the House, 176-171, and the Senate, 14-10. It heads next to Gov. Chris Sununu, who said he will veto it. He vowed to veto an alternative map proposed in House Bill 52.
While votes fell mostly along party lines, 10 House Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the Republican-backed maps that would move the city of Manchester into the 2nd District, placing three of the state’s largest cities in the same voting district.
Rep. John Burt of Goffstown, one of the towns that would move into that district, was among them. “Goffstown has sent me here today to vote no on Senate Bill 200,” Burt said on the House floor. “Many voters in town have talked with me and said that they have been with CD 1 forever … and they would like to remain in CD 1.”
Burt argued in favor of reviving an older version of the map approved in HB 52. If the Legislature fails to produce a map the governor can support, the New Hampshire Supreme Court has said it will intervene and draw the maps.
House Democrats opposed the SB 200 plan Thursday, saying it would move 34 cities and towns to a different district, representing around 23 percent of the state’s population.
Those concerns were echoed by Senate Democrats. “This proposal will drastically change how New Hampshire elects our members of Congress,” said Sen. Donna Soucy of Manchester. “The proposal clearly makes decisions, I believe, more on political calculations than on the necessary function of balancing population.”
This map would also place both of the current representatives to the U.S. Congress in the same district. There isn’t a law preventing candidates from running for election in a different district than where they live, but it is considered a political liability.
“Will this map be passed by the governor if we pass it? I still don’t know,” said Sen. James Gray, a Rochester Republican, who spoke in favor of the map.
“This map is a result of the governor’s (vow to) veto of the map that we put out there already. It is a compromise,” he said.
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