Iowa redistricting proposal matches two pairs of incumbents against each other

April 1, 2011

By Aaron Blake, The Washington Post

Iowa’s nonpartisan redistricting commission threw an early wrench into the state’s redistricting process Thursday, proposing a map that would put Republican Reps. Tom Latham and Steve King into the same district, while also drawing Democratic Reps. Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack into the same district.

The state is dropping from five districts to four districts due to slower-than-average population growth over the last decade, meaning that it was a foregone conclusion that two incumbents would be drawn into the same district.

But instead of making minor changes, the proposal is a wholesale re-drawing of the congressional map and pairs up two sets of incumbents, while leaving Rep. Leonard Boswell (D) in his own district and creating an open seat in the southeastern corner of the state – where the potential candidates include former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack (D).

This map is not the final plan, however, as the state legislature and governor have to sign off on it first. Republicans, in particular, might bristle at the idea that Latham and King would be in the same district. Latham moved to his current home in Ames in 2001 to avoid just such a scenario.

Loebsack, meanwhile, is just a few miles away from the new open seat and could potentially run in that district – which contains much of the territory he has represented since 2006 – rather than running against Braley in a primary.

Democrats, meanwhile, will have three districts that went for President Obama in 2008, according to the Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman.

“I think there will be some strong Republican opposition to the map, not because the GOP would end up on short end of stick overall, but because King and Latham would really have to primary,” Wasserman said (check out his take here).

The map will now go to public hearings before being voted on by the state legislature, which can only vote “yes” or “no” and can’t make changes. From there, Republican Gov. Terry Branstad can veto the plan.

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