Rep. Paul Bergeron said the new proposal would move 460,000 people in 73 towns from one district to another. (Getty Images)
House Republicans have taken another stab at redrawing the state’s congressional districts. The latest attempt – the so-called “I-93 map” that groups communities along the interstate corridor – passed the House Special Redistricting Committee Wednesday in a party-line vote.
Committee Republicans were undeterred by Gov. Chris Sununu’s opposition to the map, which would create a more solidly Republican 1st Congressional District and a solidly Democratic 2nd District. Under the proposed map, U.S. Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas would live in the same district.
“The people of New Hampshire are counting on the House Special Committee on Redistricting to deliver a map that holds our incumbents accountable and keeps our districts competitive,” Gov. Chris Sununu said in a statement on the amendment after it was released late Monday. “We are still not there.”
The amendment, drawn by Rep. Ross Berry, a Manchester Republican, would group Belknap County, Merrimack County, a sliver of Hillsborough County, and most of Rockingham County together into the 1st District.
During the executive session Wednesday, Berry said he used three “tiers” of criteria to draw the map: the top tier was keeping the population equally divided between the two districts and not splitting cities or towns; second was preserving economic communities that don’t cross county lines; and the third was competitiveness.
“My definition of competitive is a result that would accurately reflect the nature of the state,” Berry said.
For Berry, that means Republican victories would match the percentage of Republican voters in the state. He pointed to Democratic victories at the federal level in the past 10 years and claimed the “I-93” map would not lock in a Republican victory, but “it gives Republicans a chance.”
The map is not ranked as highly competitive, according FiveThirtyEight, a designation Gov. Sununu’s proposal had received. Committee Democrats also pushed back on Berry’s claim.
“We’ve made CD2 even less competitive. We’ve made it significantly less competitive,” said Rep. Manny Espitia, a Nashua Democrat.
The proposal is also a significant change from the current congressional district map; Rep. Paul Bergeron said the new proposal would move 460,000 people in 73 towns from one district to another.
Berry argued that incremental change was not the best approach and that it was time to “hit the reset.”
The bill will now go before the full House for a vote next week. It would then go back to the Senate, which would have to concur with changes made in the House in order for the bill to advance.
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