UPDATE ... Maine Legislature Passes Bi-partisan Redistricting Plan
Tuesday, September 27, 2011 9:02 AM
The bitter battle over redrawing Maine's U.S. congressional districts that has gone on for months ended Tuesday afternoon with a handshake.
Michaud & Pingree React to Today’s Redistricting Vote
Michaud: "pleased to see that Augusta didn't turn into Washington"
Congressman Mike Michaud, who represents Maine's 2nd congressional district, released the following statement in reaction to today's passage of a redistricting plan in the Maine Legislature:
"I'm pleased to see that Augusta didn't turn into Washington. Mainers want compromise, and that's what they got with this plan. While I'm disappointed to lose a number of Kennebec County communities, including Waterville, we're really one Maine at the end of the day. Regardless of district lines or political party, our congressional delegation has a long tradition of working together to advocate for our state and nothing today changes that."
Pingree: "in the end common sense prevailed"
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, who represents Maine's 1st congressional district, issued the following statement on passage of the plan to reapportion Maine's two Congressional Districts:
"I am glad that the Legislature was able to set aside radical, partisan redistricting proposals and come to a bipartisan agreement. In the end, common sense prevailed and the Legislature adopted a reasonable plan that was not unnecessarily disruptive. I want to thank the bipartisan redistricting commission for their work and for all the members of the public for the work they did to encourage legislators to adopt this common sense solution.
The Maine House of Representatives and the Maine Senate adopted a compromise redistricting plan with bi-partisan support on Tuesday, September 27. The House passed the bill 140-3 and the Senate passed it 35-0.
The Kennebec County Map plan, as it is called, will leave much of the existing congressional district lines the same. Following legal guidelines, the plan splits no towns and splits voters evenly between the two districts (+/- 1), but will move the city of Waterville and Winthrop into the First Congressional District which is currently served by Rep. Chellie Pingree,and move several small Kennebec County towns into the second District, which is currently served by Rep.Mike Michaud.
The Kennebec Map was drawn up by Republicans this summer and was offered as a "take it or leave it" option to Senator Seth Goodall, who was negotiating on behalf of the Democrats. The Republicans took the Kennebec Map off the negotiating table after several days and it was never made public until it reemerged during eleventh hour negotiations on Monday, September 26.
The passage of the redistricting plan with more than a two-thirds majority of votes in the House and the Senate (and with subsequent signing of the bill by the governor) means the Legislature will avoid a fight in the Maine Supreme Court, which was inevitable if the Republican majority had adopted a bill put forward by Rep. Les Fossel of Alna that would have changed state law requiring a two thirds majority vote for redistricting. Fossel's bill, which was never brought to the floor, called for allowing passage of redistricting with only a straight 51 percent majority.
Had Fossel's bill passed, a far more radical Republican plan for redrawing congressional district lines that would have included moving Lewiston-Auburn into the second district and shifting almost a quarter of voters into a different district would have been pushed through along party lines. A legal challenge after the vote would have quickly followed, leaving the Maine Supreme Court to be the final arbiter, as they were during the last redistricting process in 2003 when the Maine legislature was unable to reach agreement.
Republicans and Democrats wanted to avoid a court fight and worked to accept a compromise at the last minute.