Legislature approves legislative, congressional redistricting plan

A big change was creation of the 10th Congressional District.

The state Senate voted 44-4 Wednesday to give final approval to the state Redistricting Commission's map for new legislative and congressional districts for the next 10 years.  The biggest change is creation of a first-ever 10th Congressional District surrounding Olympia.

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown called the plan a “testament to the strength of our redistricting process.”

The Olympian reported that one of the Republicans who voted against the plan was state Sen. Jim Honeyford of Sunnyside, who faces a reshaping of his legislative district around Yakima. He said the redistricting commissioners were too focused on politics.

The new district boundaries will take effect after the November election. The state got an extra congressional district because of a growth in population in the 2010 Census.

The other big changes are:

-- In the 9th Congressional District, which currently goes from Renton down to Thurston County.  The District is now held by Democrat Adam Smith.  The new 9th represents only a small piece of Pierce County, but extends upwards into parts of Seattle.  The effect is that the new 9th will be the state’s first district where over 50 percent of residents are minorities. 

-- In the 1st Congressional District. This seat is now held by Democrat Jay Inslee, who is giving up his seat to run for governor. Instead of being centered in the population areas of Lynnwood, Edmonds and Shoreline, the commission has taken those cities out and given the 1st District a large rural area that was formerly part of the 2nd.

“Our biggest challenge was the 1st District,” said Tim Ceis, a Democratic member of the Redistricting Commission.  “We decided that’s where we would try to meet both objectives of having a competitive open seat.”

 “It may easily be the most evenly divided congressional district in the entire United States of America,” said Republican commission member and former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton. 

Based on party registration of voters, five of the state's congressional districts should be comfortably Democratic, four should be comfortably Republican, and one -- the 1st – will be a toss-up. 

All incumbents will remain in the districts they now represent.