He heard the testimony and studied the maps and in the end Special Master Nathaniel Persily decided not to make significant changes to Connecticut’s five congressional districts.
In his draft report, issued two weeks ahead of schedule, Persily said he complied with the court order and set out to construct a “least-change plan.”
It moves 28,975 people or less than 1 percent of the state’s population out of their current districts and splits fewer towns than the existing map.
Persily’s recommendation to the court coincides with what Democrats had proposed. Persily said the differences between the two plans were “admittedly small,” though in moving fewer people and achieving greater compactness, he said his plan was superior. In a short statement Democrats said the draft plan seemed to address the small changes the court required.
“It is ostensibly the Democratic plan,” House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said. “I respect it. It’s over. We move on from here.”
He said the 2001 map was drawn for former U.S. Reps. James Maloney and Nancy Johnson, who were pitted against each other in 2002 when Connecticut lost its 6th congressional district.
It was an argument made last week by state Rep. Arthur O’Neill, R-Southbury, the only member to serve on both the 2001 and 2011 Reapportionment Commission.
“We thought they were fair for Jim Maloney, Nancy Johnson, and the 2002 election,” O’Neill told Persily last week at a public hearing. “But they made sense because that’s what we were focused on almost to the exclusion of all else. We didn‘t look at them as the permanent way the state of Connecticut would be divided up going forward.”
Cafero blamed the court whose order to the special master he said tied Persily’s hands. The order directed the special master to modify the existing map “only to the extent reasonably required.”
“What the court did was put a stamp of approval on the most partisan, albeit bipartisan, but partisan map drawing in the history of the state of Connecticut,” Cafero said. “And now it will be perpetuated for another 10 years.”
Cafero said he was doubtful Republicans would appeal the decision, and conceded that it seemed “futile,” but he will discuss it with his colleagues.
“They made up their mind on Jan. 3,” Cafero said referring to the Supreme Court’s order.
The 2nd District, which needed to shed about 15,000 people in order to comply with the one-person, one vote principle, lost all of Durham, which will be absorbed by the 3rd District.
Meanwhile the 4th District picks up some voters in the town of Shelton, which is partially in the 3rd. The change in the 5th District is so minimal it’s hard to even spot on the map. Essentially he moved 548 people from the 1st District to the 5th District and moved 24 people from the 5th District to the 1st District.