U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, said Thursday that if the newly proposed congressional boundaries are approved, he would seek to represent the 2nd Congressional District, which includes the Quad-Cities.
The Legislative Services Agency released its proposed new congressional map early in the day, putting Loebsack, of Mount Vernon, and Rep. Bruce Braley, a Waterloo Democrat who represents the Iowa Quad-Cities now, into a newly drawn 1st District.
The pairing set up what could be a potentially uncomfortable primary battle, but Loebsack said he would seek to represent the 2nd.
“Given my past, my experience, what I think I've done for the southeast part of the state, my intent is to represent those people,” Loebsack said in an interview with the Quad-City Times.
He added he’s a member of the House Armed Services Committee, which would have an impact on the Rock Island Arsenal.
Loebsack and Braley acknowledged the maps were only a draft. They still must be approved the state Legislature and Gov. Terry Branstad.
“I’m honored to represent northeast Iowa in Congress, and I’m focused on the very important work we have in front of us,” Braley said in a statement.
Redistricting is done every 10 years to rebalance political boundaries after census results are released, and the new maps were highly anticipated, especially because Iowa is losing a congressional seat.
Beginning in 2012, it will have four districts, each with a larger swath of territory.
That’s easily seen in the proposed new 2nd District, which stretches from Clinton County on the Mississippi River to Decatur County along Iowa’s southern border, where Graceland College is located. That’s a distance of 275 miles.
The proposed district groups the Quad-Cities with Iowa City, Muscatine, Burlington, Keokuk and Fort Madison, as well as several rural counties.
It’s also friendly territory for Democrats. President Barack Obama carried the 24 counties in the district with 57 percent of the vote in 2008.
The new maps still are preliminary and subject to being rejected. Ten years ago, state lawmakers did just that, preferring to see a new set of maps, which they adopted.
Already, some experienced political hands were predicting the first set would be jettisoned again.
“I think it’s highly unlikely that will be the final map,” said Brian Kennedy, a former state GOP chairman.
He said there were too many congressmen and state legislators paired together.
Reps. Steve King and Tom Latham, both Republicans, were grouped in the new 4th Congressional District.
The new maps prompted a round of speculation about who might run in 2012.
Among the names circulated in the 2nd was former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack. Her Mount Pleasant home is in the newly drawn 2nd. Vilsack has expressed an interest in running for office.
She couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday. An associate said she likely wouldn’t have anything to say this soon because it’s still early in the process.
It’s also possible Ben Lange, the Republican who tried to unseat Braley in 2010, could move into the district.
Lange lives in Independence, north of Cedar Rapids, but his former campaign manager, Cody Brown, said Thursday some people have been urging him to relocate.
“I don’t believe he’s ruled anything out,” Brown said.
Lange was in Scott County just two weeks ago for a party fundraising dinner, his first political appearance since losing his bout with Braley.
Loebsack didn’t say whether he would move from Mount Vernon. His home is in southern Linn County, in the newly drawn 1st District, but it’s also not far from Johnson County, where Loebsack has a base of support.
Even if he didn’t move, Loebsack could still represent the new district. A congressman is required to live in the state where his district is located, not within its boundaries. And it’s not unheard of for congressmen to live outside their districts.
Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill., for example, lives in Colona, a mile outside Illinois’ 17th Congressional District boundary.
The newly drawn districts came pretty close to the ideal population of 761,589 per congressional district.
The 2nd District has 35 people more than the optimum.
The furthest off the mark is the 1st, which was 41 people short.
In all cases, the deviation fell well within the legal limits.
The primary requirement of the state’s redistricting law is each district have as equal a population as possible. Districts also must be reasonably compact and contiguous and counties also cannot be divided among districts.
There now will be hearings to take public input on the proposed maps before state lawmakers decide their fate.
Next Tuesday, there will be a hearing from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency, 729 21st St., Bettendorf.
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Braley, Loebsack in same district in new maps
Rod Boshart at 8:25 a.m.
DES MOINES — Iowa Democratic congressmen Bruce Braley of Waterloo and David Loebsack of Mount Vernon were thrown together in a new 1st Congressional District, and Republican congressmen Steve King of Kiron and Tom Latham of Ames were thrown together in a new 4th Congressional District in a new reapportionment map issued today.
Braley, currently Iowa’s 1st District representative, and Loebsack, who represents the state’s 2nd Congressional District both live in a newly revised district in northeast and east-central Iowa that was part of the first reapportionment plan (www.legis.iowa.gov) drafted by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency based on 2010 U.S. census data.
King, currently Iowa’s 5th District representative, and Latham, who represents the state’s 4th Congressional District, both reside in a newly revised district in northwest and north-central Iowa.
U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Des Moines, is part of a revamped 3rd District that stretches from Des Moines to the Missouri River in the state’s southwestern quadrant. A new 2nd District from the Missouri border along the Mississippi River up to Clinton and west to Newton currently has no incumbent U.S. representative residing in the area.
Slow population growth over the past decade resulted in Iowa losing one of its current congressional districts, shrinking the number from five to four for the 2012 election.
Also released this morning were new districts for the Iowa House and Iowa Senate redrawn by LSA drafters and attorneys. The new legislative district boundaries were expected to reflect population shifts from rural areas to urban centers and surrounding suburban communities. Iowa law provides that no legislative district should vary from the ideal population size by more than 1 percent.
A special five-member Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission will conduct public hearings next week in Council Bluffs, Bettendorf, Cedar Rapids and Des Moines to gather comments on the proposed new districts before making a recommendation to the split control Legislature and Republican Gov. Terry Branstad.
Either the House, which currently is controlled by Republicans 60-40, or the Senate, where Democrats hold a 26-24 majority, or Branstad can reject the initial LSA proposal.
The earliest that lawmakers expect to take action on the first plan would be April 14.
The legislative verdict is an up-or-down vote on the proposed reapportionment plan without amending it. If the first draft is rejected, LSA drafters must submit a second proposal for redrawing congressional and legislative districts within 21 days, and the process is repeated. The third proposal, if needed, can be changed if the Legislature and governor have not reached an agreement by that point.
The Iowa Supreme Court would step in and redraw the districts if no agreement is reached on the third plan by Sept. 1 and passed into law by Sept. 15.
In 1981, the Legislature approved the third redistricting plan. In 1991, the first plan was accepted. In 2001, the reapportionment process was completed on the second try.