ANALYSIS: REPUBLICANS LOOKING FOR POLITICAL COVER FROM COURTS ON REDISTRICTING

Despite a court order directing the two sides in the impasse over redrawing Connecticut’s congressional district lines to keep working, there won’t be a legislative solution. The reason for that? Because Republicans on the commission want to be able to say to their partisan backers that they fought the Democrats all the way to the Supreme Court, so the result is not their fault.

There is absolutely no reason for either side to move off their positions. Democrats say the current map needs only some tweaking; Republicans say Bridgeport should be in the fourth district, something that is anathema to Democrats.

Neither side will budge. Republicans have nothing to gain by not having it decided by the court. At least then, if the court decides to keep the districts basically as is, Republicans on the commission can tell their partisan base, “We did everything we could…we even pushed it to the state supreme court. So the end result is the court’s fault, not ours.”

In 2001, the last time the lines were drawn, both Republicans and Democrats “had a skin in the game,” so to speak. Both had three members of Congress (Nancy Johnson, Rob Simmons and Chris Shays—all Rs; Jim Maloney, Rosa Delauro and John Larson, the Ds). The redistricting committee knew it had to consolidate two districts because of population data from the 2000 census. Therefore, a compromise was inevitable.

Meanwhile, Democrats on this year’s commission are arguing that there is no political advantage with the current map, particularly because it was in place when Republicans won the majority of the congressional seats in 2002 and again in 2004. It wasn’t until 2006 when Chris Murphy and Joe Courtney won the fifth and second districts, respectively that Democrats had the entire congressional delegation. Democrats argue that the congressional lines shouldn’t be moved to give an advantage to one side or the other. The court may very well agree.

In the meantime, despite the court’s order, there are no scheduled meetings of the redistricting commission.