State legislative leaders on Monday made their choices known for their picks for the congressional and legislative redistricting commissions that will begin work later this year to redraw the state’s 100 legislative districts and rework the state’s congressional district maps.
Once Census tabulations are done, Colorado is expected to add an eighth seat to its House roster.
In 2018, Colorado voters approved two constitutional amendments for redistricting, with independent commissions drawing the maps. The makeup of the 12-member commissions, divided equally among unaffiliated/independent voters, Democrats and Republicans, was intended to prevent one party from dominating the process.
Minority Leader Sen. Chris Holbert of Parker and Minority Leader Rep. Hugh McKean of Loveland nominated all Republicans, and aimed for geographic diversity among their nominees. They also picked some well-known names from Colorado’s Republican political circles.
The legislative nominees include former state Treasurer and former Colorado Sen. Mark Hillman of Burlington; former House Majority Leader Tim Foster of Grand Junction, who has been president of Colorado Mesa University since 2004; and Republican attorney Barry Arrington of Arvada. Attorney Kory Nelson of Parker, who ran unsuccessfully for the Douglas County School Board in 2019, also made the list.
Foster has been rumored in recent days to be interested in the Congressional District 3 seat after he retires from CMU on June 30. However, he told Colorado Politics on Tuesday he is not running.
The Republican minority leaders’ other nominees for the legislative commission include Chris Biondolilo, CD6; Connie Hass, CD4, Aislinn Kottwitz, CD2, JulieMarie Shepherd Macklin, CD6, previously on the Aurora School Board; Antonette DeLauro Smith, CD6, and Denes Szabo, CD7, husband of former state Rep. and Jefferson County Commissioner Libby Szabo.
Nominees for the congressional panel include El Paso County Treasurer Bob Balink, and radio host and former CD5 Congressional candidate Jeff Crank, CD5; Bobbie Daniel, CD3, Angela Dougan, CD5; Jason Kelly, CD3, Julie McCaleb, CD4, Michael Mitchell, CD3, Trudi Michelle Morrison, CD6; as well as Macklin and Kottwitz.
Majority Leader Sen. Steve Fenberg of Boulder and Majority Leader Rep. Daneya Esgar of Pueblo also released their list on Monday, with all but two of their nominees from the Front Range. Their lists also included prominent Colorado Democrats.
The congressional panel nominees are Arnold Salazar, CD3, who served on the last redistricting commission in 2011; former state Sen. Polly Baca, CD1; Pat Waak, CD4, former chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, and Ray Rivera, CD7, whose political activity includes as state director for the Obama campaign. Other nominees include Simon Tafoya, CD1; Sonrise Lucero, CD7; Adelia Tripp CD3; Martha Coleman, CD2; Democratic National Committeewoman Blanca O’Leary, CD3; Heather Barry, CD7; Dan Daly, CD5; Tim Wolf, CD2; John Salsbury, CD7, and Bob Morehouse, CD2.
The legislative commission includes many of the same names from the congressional group: Lucero, Tripp, Baca, O’Leary, Barry, Waak, Rivera, Wolf and Daly. Additional nominees include former House Majority Leader Alice Madden of Louisville, former Senate President Joan FitzGerald of Golden, Leah Pryor-Lease of CD1 and Jen Walmer, Colorado state director of Democrats for Education Reform, CD6.
All but two are from Front Range communities. The last two are from Buena Vista (Daly) and Aspen (O’Leary).
The final step in the redistricting commissioner selection process will unfold over the next month. By March 1, the judicial selection panel will choose the final six commissioners for the congressional commission and by March 16, the same panel will select the final six for the legislative commission.
They will review the legislative leaders' four narrowed pools of 10 applicants, and select one from each of the four pools. They will also choose two more unaffiliated applicants for each commission from the initial pools of randomly selected and qualified unaffiliated applicants. The panel of judges will have the option to interview applicants before making the selections.