Don’t buy for one second the Republican hand-wringing or claims of the process being “a charade.” GOP leaders in the Connecticut General Assembly got exactly what they needed from the redistricting process—political cover. And truth be told, that’s all they really expected or deserved.
Court-appointed Special Master Nathanial Perily, a Columbia Law professor and elections expert, last week issued a draft decision in the case that changes the current congressional districts in the state very little. The state Supreme Court appointed Persily after the redistricting committee, made up of a bipartisan group of legislative leaders, could not agree.
State House Republican Leader Larry Cafero told the Hartford Courant that the court engaged in “a charade” by instructing Persily to make changes to the current map only to balance population. What is really a charade is Cafero and company claiming to have actually expected anything different. What the really needed was to be able to go back to their Republicans peeps and say, “Hey, we fought it all the way to the Supreme Court. It’s the court’s fault, not ours.” Sure, he would have loved to have gotten what he wanted—a more extensive redrawing of the lines to improve Republicans’ chances of winning seats in Congress—but that wasn’t going to happen.
Also in the “charade” category are Republican claims that the current congressional district lines favor Democrats politically. We read this in various op-ed pieces as well. It is a false premise that defies history. The fact is that after the current lines were put in place in 2001, Republicans held the majority of the state’s seats in the US House of Representatives for the next four years. It was only after Democrats Chris Murphy, D-5, and Joe Courtney, D-2, won their seats did Democrats take over. Are we supposed to deny the people’s will because it resulted in Democratic victories?
When confronted with these facts, some Republican lawmakers revert to the rather silly, “It [the current map] doesn’t look right” or “It just doesn’t make sense.” Real high-minded political discourse, don’t you think?
The fact is Republican legislative leaders were engaged in a charade from the beginning. They never expected to have the congressional lines drastically redrawn. They just wanted to be able to say they tried.
Patrick Scully is a former Senate Democratic Communications Director and the owner of The Hanging Shad.