Iowa’s congressmen are taking a “wait-and-see” attitude as state legislators ponder the proposed maps for realigning legislative districts as well as reducing the number of Iowa congressional districts from five to four.
Under Iowa’s process for redrawing district lines, state lawmakers must either accept or reject the maps which were drawn by staff in the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency. The proposed maps, unveiled this morning, would throw Republican Congressmen Tom Latham and Steve King on one district and Democratic Congressmen Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack in another. King says he’s going to seek reelection in 2012, regardless of what congressional map is approved.
“It’s not drawn by me, obviously, so it managed to pit two Republicans against each other and two Democrats against each other,” King says. “You know, that’s an unusual coincidence, but we will see what happens.”
Congressman Leonard Boswell’s Des Moines home sits in a newly-redrawn third district. The map does have a new second district that would cover the southeastern quadrant of the state where none of the five members of congress currently live. Congressman Loebsack says he’s been “honored to represent southeast Iowa” for the past four years, but he’s not yet talking about moving.
“This is the first map of potentially two or three and that determination is going to be made by the state legislature and the governor,” Loebsack says. “And, really, members of congress have virtually no say in the process.”
Despite the drama of the envisioned congressional races, the configuration of the districts for seats in the Iowa House and Senate are likely uppermost in the minds of state legislators. However, House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha, suggests legislators aren’t making a snap judgment about the plan.
“We’re still digesting it. We’ll work through it and I don’t feel any pressure to make that decision today or even this weekend for that matter,” Paulsen says. “We have a public comment period. Let’s continue to make the process run.”
House Republican Leader Linda Upmeyer of rural Garner resides in a district where two other lawmakers now live.
“I don’t think is a time to make decisions about what anybody is going to do,” Upmeyer says. “These are maps. We’re going to look at them, figure out what everybody’s goals and desires are.”
Former Senate Republican Leader Stewart Iverson, who’s also a former chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, is now a member of the Iowa House, and he would be forced to run against Upmeyer in 2012 if this plan is approved. However, there’s an open senate seat he could choose to run for instead.
“I have made no decisions yet,” Iverson says, “haven’t even thought about it that much.”
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says if lawmakers reject this plan, there’s no guarantee the next will be better for either party.
“We have three different entities that get a say…Any one of the three can say, ‘No deal.’ The governor can say ‘No deal.’ The House can say, ‘No deal.’ The Senate can say, ‘No deal,'” Gronstal says. “…Map 1 may have some concerns, but it behooves everybody to take a cold, hard look and maybe a hard swallow and go, ‘But overall, it’s fair and the second map might not be as fair.'”
House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines says there are political winners and losers on both sides.
“I’ve noticed a couple of things that look kind of good and a couple of things that look pretty bad (for Democrats),” McCarthy says. “And so far, it looks to be kind of a wash as best I can tell.”
Fourteen state senators and 27 state representatives are drawn into districts with another incumbent.