“One more week,” Kevin Johnston, the ninth member of the Reapportionment Commission shouted to a security guard as he crossed the Capitol parking lot Tuesday.
He was referring to the one week the commission has left to draw lines on the Congressional maps before the court-ordered Dec. 21 deadline.
Some members of the commission will meet Wednesday to see if they’re any closer than they were last month when bipartisanship faded almost immediately after it voted on the maps for the General Assembly’s 187 House and Senate districts.
The four Republican lawmakers on the commission drew the five Congressional districts very differently than the four Democratic lawmakers on the commission. Johnston, a former state auditor and lawmaker from Pomfret, was added to the commission in November to be arbitrate between the two sides.
The Republican map of the five districts pushes Bridgeport into the 3rd Congressional District with New Haven and creates a 4th Congressional District that would be favorable to a Republican candidate. The map drawn by the Democrats makes few changes to the current map and simply shifts the increased 15,000 people in the 2nd Congressional District from east to west, mostly by moving 15,000 people in Glastonbury to the 5th Congressional District.
While neither side is ready to admit defeat both sides have retained lawyers in case they’re unable to reach a conclusion and the maps end up in court.
Republicans have retained Ross Garber, a partner in Shipman & Goodwin, and former legal counsel to former Gov. John G. Rowland. Democrats have retained Aaron Bayer, a partner in Wiggin & Dana.
“The state’s congressional districts should be drawn in a fair, bipartisan manner,“ Sen. Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said last week in a statement. “We are committed to making changes necessary to balance population shifts as required by law and do not seek drastic political changes.”
Asked how quickly the two sides may be able to reach consensus, Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, said, “Fifteen minutes is enough time to draw the maps if we’re of like minds and kind find an agreeable redistricting map.”
“It doesn’t take as long as I think people would think. It’s mostly political differences and an inability to reach a compromise that takes so long,“ he said.
“If both sides are willing we can definitely do it,“ McKinney said.
McKinney wouldn’t go any further except to say that he’s trying not to negotiate redistricting through the media.
The members of the commission have not had a public meeting since Nov. 30, but both sides have been busy working on drawing the lines separately.