New legislative district maps were unveiled Monday, and some current legislators will likely find themselves battling each other in the next election cycle. The Indy Star reports:
Marion County would be represented by two members of Congress, rather than the current three, under the maps agreed upon by House and Senate Republicans.
Under the proposal, the 7th District — now represented by Democratic Rep. Andre Carson — would become more Republican. Instead of encompassing the center of the county as it now does, the district would cover all but the top quarter of the county.
That would put the most Republican parts of Marion County — Beech Grove and Decatur Township — into the 7th District, while the top section, including some reliably Democratic areas, would move to the 5th District. That’s represented now by Republican Rep. Dan Burton.
One voter who would find himself in Burton’s district: Republican Rep. Todd Rokita. His 4th District no longer would include his northwestern Marion County home.
Still, the 7th and the 1st districts, in Northwest Indiana, are expected to remain Democrat-leaning. Not so the 2nd District, the only other congressional district currently held by a Democrat, Rep. Joe Donnelly of South Bend. By removing Kokomo from it, among proposed changes, the 2nd is expected to tilt Republican.
Undergoing some of the biggest changes: the 9th District. It now is an Ohio River district, including all of southeastern Indiana. It would become an I-65 district, stretching from Johnson County on the northern end to Harrison County on the southern end.
That means someone who lives a block south of Marion County would have the same congressman as someone who lives on the banks of the Ohio River.
House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said Republicans’ new district map "just flat looks good."
Not from where the Democrats were standing.
Republicans, Bosma said, kept their pledge to draw maps without putting politics first.
The proof, he said, was that in the Indiana House, at least eight of the new districts have no incumbent, four have both a Democratic and a Republican incumbent, three pit two Republicans against each other, and three pit Democratic incumbents against each other.
In fact, one Marion County legislative district contains the residences of three Democratic incumbents: Reps. John Day, Ed DeLaney and Greg Porter.
Democrats point to that district as proof that the maps don’t paint such a pretty, nonpartisan picture after all. Instead of being a compact square or rectangle, it’s more like an upside-down horseshoe arcing through Washington and Pike townships.
Day laughed when asked whether he bought the GOP’s insistence that Republicans avoided gerrymandering — the art of drawing a district map for political advantage.
"That’s a silly question," he said, saying the shape of the district and the fact that it put three Democrats together spoke volumes.
He, DeLaney and Porter said they were unsure what this would mean for their political futures. But Rep. Jeb Bardon, another Indianapolis Democrat who found himself in the same district as Democratic Rep. Vanessa Summers, said for him it probably meant one thing: a sign in his yard backing Summers as he steps aside.
The maps, though, put the powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Jeff Espich, Uniondale, in the same district as another Republican, Rep. Dan Leonard.
"I guess there’s going to be a heck of a primary," Leonard said with a laugh.
But he didn’t complain.
"I’m not sure how you draw the maps without having some conflicts," Leonard said.
Vaughn, one of the organizers of the citizens commission to draw maps that put voters ahead of politics, said the House decision against incumbent protection "really surprised me."
"That’s something that’s just been taboo in the past," she said.
Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said the maps aimed to keep more counties intact rather than divided among multiple Indiana Senate districts and to keep communities with similar interests together.
Only 48 of Indiana’s 92 counties are in a single Senate district now. Under the new Senate maps proposed by Republicans, 52 counties are.
Long and other Republicans singled out Anderson and Muncie. Those two communities would be combined in a single Senate district under the GOP maps.
But Democrats point to Marion County, which is carved up more than ever.
Instead of being split among eight Senate districts as it is now, it is split among nine.
The new member of Marion County’s Senate delegation would be Beverly Gard, R-Greenfield, who would represent a district that stretches from Center Township in Marion County through Hancock and Henry counties all the way to the Wayne County line.
"It’s certainly not my choice," Gard said of her new district boundaries.
Asked whether she could vote for the new maps, she said: "We’ll just have to wait and see."