The Journal Gazette
Thursday, September 16, 2021 1:00 am

Proposed district map favors GOP

Estimate reveals 70-30 split, produce 6 new open seats

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – The newly proposed House legislative boundaries would result in six new open seats as well as six districts with two Republican incumbents, GOP leaders revealed Wednesday.

House Speaker Todd Huston said repeatedly they let the population numbers drive the map-making – denying attempts to keep a partisan advantage.

“We wanted to have maps that honored the goals and what we were trying to accomplish. People are going to think what they want to think,” he said.

He and several other key House Republicans spoke before a public hearing on the House and congressional maps Wednesday. There were few specific concerns or comments – likely because the proposed boundaries were only available for about 24 hours, and many are still analyzing the lines.

Another hearing is set for today. 

“Some are trying to tell us it could have been worse,” said Haley Bougher. “All I can say is it could have been better.”

House Republicans currently have a 71-29 advantage in the House. Huston denied running historical election data on the new proposed districts that would estimate the future power balance.

But an IUPUI economics student – Nick Roberts – did just that. He estimated a 70-30 split in favor of Republicans when using results from the 2020 presidential race. It was 71-29 when using results from the 2020 attorney general's race, a more baseline competition.

There are six open districts – with no incumbent living in them – under the new maps, including one in Allen County.

Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, authored House Bill 1581 – which will contain the new districts – and said he heard repeatedly in public testimony taken in August how fractured Allen County had become. It bled into nine different House districts.

So the GOP purposely redrew the county with fewer and more compact districts. And only one of the six Allen County districts includes part of another county.

Huston said there are also six districts that have two GOP incumbents currently residing in them. None have two Democrats or one Democrat and one Republican.

Huston said every member of the House was invited to talk to mapmakers before the process began and several expressed they would not be seeking re-election.

He said he would leave it up to those individual members to announce their own retirement plans. Already on Tuesday, Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, said he wouldn't run again. The longtime House Ways and Means Chairman was drawn into a district with another Republican.

There is also one contested district in northeast Indiana – Reps. Craig Snow, R-Warsaw, and Rep. Curt Nisly, R-Milford. There is no indication either is interested in retiring, which would set up a primary fight in May 2022.

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