Governor Branstad says he’ll be in no hurry to approve the plan for redrawing Iowa’s congressional and legislative district lines if the Iowa House and Senate approve that plan today.
It’s likely legislators will vote on the new maps today. Branstad has talked to all five Iowa congressmen about the four proposed districts.
“I wanted to get their perspective because they’re obviously impacted by this as well as the legislature,” Branstad says.
Iowa is losing a seat in congress, going from five district to four in the 2012 election. The proposed redistricting plan put Democratic Congressmen Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack together in the new first district, but Loebsack has indicated he’ll move into the new second district where no incumbent is living today. Republican Congressmen Tom Latham and Steve King both live in the what would be the new fourth district, but Latham may move into the new third district, setting up a General Election match-up between Latham and Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell.
Under Iowa’s unique reapportionment law, staff in the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency draft the new maps and legislators may only accept or reject this first plan. It cannot be altered.
“This system has worked for us and, you know, we’re one of the few states that does it in a very objective, non-partisan way. I think we can be proud of that, but I just don’t want to be in any big hurry and we’ll carefully review and determine what happens,” Branstad says. “I do understand there’s a growing interest in the legislature to move forward on this and that’s fine, but I take this responsibility very seriously.”
If the legislature approves the plan today, Branstad has three days to make a decision. So far, Branstad says he’s heard no huge objections to the plan.
“I’ve heard concerns, but I don’t know that I’ve received anything that would tell me there’s a compelling reason to reject it,” Branstad says.
Iowa used this process for redrawing congressional and legislative district lines in 2001, 1991 and 1981. In 1971, the last time legislators and the governor drew the lines, the plan was successfully challenged in court. Branstad jokes that he was a beneficiary of that court-drawn redistricting plan because he won his first term in the Iowa House in 1972.