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Colo. gerrymandering amendments hitting the airwaves

Author: Joey Bunch - August 29, 2018 - Updated: August 29, 2018


Democratic state House Speaker Crisanta Duran and rising-star Republican Heidi Ganahl are making the opening TV pitches for amendments Y and Z, the ballot questions aimed at curbing gerrymandering in Colorado.

Fair Maps Colorado, the bipartisan organization driving the so-far-unopposed measures, is expected to announce a six-figure ad buy in television markets across the state as well as online Wednesday afternoon.

Amendment Y would create a commission of Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated members to draw congressional districts. Amendment Z would provide a similar board to create legislative districts. The brokered solution would end decades of distrust between Democrats and Republicans. The maps are redrawn every 10 years with heavy influence from the political parties, each trying to game individual districts to their partisan advantage, especially protecting incumbents and forcing office-holders to stick to party lines rather than district needs.

> RELATED: COVER STORY | Drawing the line on gerrymandering

“The very politicians benefiting from the maps are often the ones drawing them,” Ganahl, the University of Colorado regent at-large, says in one ad.

In a companion spot, Duran, a heralded Democrat from Denver, says, “Here, we’re clearing the smoke-filled backrooms with some Colorado sunshine.”

Duran sponsored the legislation, with Republican Senate President Kevin Grantham of Canon City, that put both measures to the November ballot. Both passed the 100-member legislature unanimously, and there is no known opposition group yet, even though gerrymandering has been an intense question in Colorado and other states. Democratic Govs. John Hickenlooper, Bill Ritter, Roy Romer and Dick Lamm along with Republican Gov. Bill Owens have endorsed it, as well.

Fair Maps Colorado had completed a campaign tour in six locations across the state. Fair Maps said Wednesday it had collected endorsements from almost 300 organizations and officials statewide.

“Amendments Y & Z are Colorado solutions that limit the role of politicians and lobbyists, emphasize accountability and competitiveness, and make us a national model by providing an equal voice to independent voters,” Kent Thiry, the co-chairman of the campaign and CEO of DaVita, said in a statement obtained by Colorado Politics.

“People from across the political spectrum are embracing Amendments Y & Z because they know that fairness is better for Colorado than gamesmanship.”

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.