Proposed Oklahoma congressional map unveiled


The proposed Oklahoma congressional map for 2021 was released on Monday, November 1, 2021. (Screenshot)

Republican state lawmakers today unveiled their new Oklahoma congressional map proposal, which will relocate 180,762 residents of central and southwestern Oklahoma City from the state’s 5th Congressional District to its 3rd congressional district. At the same time, 44,896 residents of Logan County (including the town of Guthrie) and 33,458 people of the largely rural Lincoln County will now be in CD 5.

In addition, 84,282 residents of the Yukon, Piedmont and other Canadian county municipalities will also join CD 5, which was the most competitive congressional district in the state. (Democrat Kendra Horn defeated incumbent Republican Steve Russell in 2018, then lost to Republican Stephanie Bice in 2020 by around 13,000 votes.)

The Legislature is expected to meet for a special session on Monday, November 15, to explicitly address the state’s redistribution demands, which have been delayed by the late arrival of official data from the US Census Bureau 2020. Most lawmakers fast could approve cards would be five days.

“Right now, Oklahoma City is already represented by three members of Congress. That’s right where that line is drawn, ”said Senator Lonnie Paxton (R-Tuttle), chairman of the Oklahoma State Senate Redistribution. “The fact that Oklahoma City has three representatives in Congress has not changed. For example, in parts of Lincoln and Logan counties, some of the farm groups told us that they would like to have some influence and rural influence in each congressional district. There was a discussion about it. All that sort of thing came into play.


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When it comes to the redistribution of Congress, considering “all of this” is a balance between concepts such as population equality, maintaining all counties, compactness of districts, and continuity of community representation. Paxton and his House counterpart Rep. Ryan Martinez (R-Edmond) said Oklahoma’s proposed new congressional map divides six counties – an increase of two from the existing map – and said that the 5th Congressional District map had “higher compactness.” score ”, a concept with competing methodologies but which generally rewards more circular neighborhoods and penalizes narrow“ land bridges ”between large communities.

“If you look at Congressional District 5 as shown here, it’s much more compact. It’s much easier to understand the connection than it used to be, ”Martinez said. “So we achieved this goal. So theoretically you could draw the lines somewhere else and be at the expense of compactness. “

But Martinez’s explanation and mathematical calculations of circular compactness are unlikely to be suitable for Oklahoma City residents whose representation in Congress will now be shared with residents of western Oklahoma in cities such as Weatherford, Elk City, Woodward and Guymon – about 260 miles. a way.

“I’m crazy as hell about this,” said Rep. Forrest Bennett (D-OKC), whose legislative district spans central and southern Oklahoma City. “These new (congressional) district lines divide my district (the State House) exactly where city leaders and community activists have tried to build bridges.”

The 2010 Oklahoma congressional map was last used for the state election in 2020. (Atlas

OKC Democrats: “The Powers That Be Carved This Town Up”

Bennett said the new map proposed by Oklahoma Congress will further separate OKC residents from the “north side” and “south side.”

“The message this map sends will be pretty clear to people in the south regardless of the official explanation,” Bennett said. “At a time when just about everyone involved in OKC’s business and political spheres have been working towards this ‘1OKC’ ideal, the powers that be have carved this city apart in a way that will be more painful for the communities of color than it will be. for the rest of us.

Representative Jose Cruz (D-OKC) concurred with Bennett’s assessment.

“At the State of the City address (today), Mayor David Holt mentioned that 60% of our kids in Oklahoma City are not white,” said Cruz. “The GOP is doing everything in its power to protect itself instead of representing its constituents. It sends the century-old message to South Oklahoma City that we don’t matter. It is disgusting and unconstitutional.

Martinez, the most powerful Hispanic member of the Oklahoma legislature, said he was “absolutely” confident that the proposed new Oklahoma congressional map would withstand any legal challenge.

During his press conference, Martinez was asked about the potential impact of moving the large Latinx population from southwestern OKC to a Congressional district separate from the rest of town.

“We don’t take race into account,” Martinez said, referring to federal redistribution rules. “It’s pretty clear that there is no Majority-Minority District in Oklahoma Congress. (…) I don’t think anyone is going from CD 5 to CD 3, I don’t think they will have a lower voice in Congress.

When asked if he or Paxton had received any communication or formal contribution from leaders or Hispanic groups in Oklahoma City, Martinez said, “I don’t remember specifically. There is no organization that I think I can remember.

At the start of Martinez and Paxton’s press conference, legislative staff distributed six letters in support of material explaining how the proposed new Oklahoma congressional map affects central Oklahoma. The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce wrote, “We believe this substantial population shift to central Oklahoma warrants increased representation in Congress for our region.”

An economic development group called Shawnee Forward has requested that Pottawatomie County remain in CD 5 because it is “integrally connected” with Oklahoma County. The Vice President of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation also requested that the local voters of her sovereign tribal nation remain in CD 5. A member of Guthrie City Council requested that her community be added to CD 5 because Guthrie has a “relationship. intrinsic ”with Edmond and Oklahoma City. .

“I represent Northwest Oklahoma County, where Edmond touches Guthrie. It’s very clear that Guthrie and Edmond are very connected, ”Martinez said, noting that the cities share an airport. “Guthrie has become more of a suburb of Oklahoma City. There is an advantage to having Guthrie and Edmond in the same congressional district. “

Meanwhile, the mayor of Midwest City requested that his community and the Tinker Air Force base remain in CD 4, which would be adjusted in the new map to include 85% of Midwest City and all of Del City, a said Martinez. The president of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau also wrote a letter indicating that, for 79 years, “members of the Farm Bureau have expressed a clear preference for the five congressional districts to include parts of rural and urban.”

But Bennett criticized the proposed new CD 5 limit as likely to harm southern OKC residents.

“Some people say that having multiple members of Congress responsible for parts of the OKC gives the city a greater presence in Washington. But, with us, the needs of the inhabitants of the south of the city center – needs not much different from those who live in the city center or in the eastern part of the city center – will compete with the needs of the enclave and vast swathes of western and northern Oklahoma, ”Bennett said. “I see a clear goal in these lines: to divide and dilute the diverse voices in central Oklahoma. It’s going to take a lot of persuasion to get me to see another one.

Martinez rebuffed any idea that moving part of the central and most southwestern OKC to a new congressional district was a problem.

“Assuming this was the only criteria and the only district you were looking at, it would be very easy to make those assumptions. But looking at it holistically and looking at a long list of criteria, it seemed to make the most sense. So, are there a million different ways to draw this? Absoutely. But what we had to look at was what benefits everyone in Oklahoma the most to make the puzzle fit together, ”Martinez said. “There are a lot of moving parts here, more than just a thing like ‘Hey, this community could live closer to this one.’ It’s a factor, absolutely. But there are also a lot of other factors that go into this map. “

Legislative constituencies will also be adjusted

State lawmakers will also consider changes to their new House and Senate districts, which were originally approved in May using data from the American Community Survey 2015-2019 from the US Census Bureau, because the official data of the 2020 census were delayed due to the pandemic.

State legislative districts are allowed to have a population gap of plus or minus 2.5%, while congressional districts are to be divided equally into people.

“When the actual data came out in mid-August and the detailed data in September (…) we noticed that in several parts of the state, the suburban areas increased more than with the estimates,” said Paxton. “Many of our neighborhoods have moved more to population centers (in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas)”

Former mayor of Tuttle, Paxton has said his Senate District 23 will grow from a suburban-rural mix to a largely suburban population.

“All incumbents are still in their constituencies,” Martinez said, saying he believed voters should determine whether to remove a lawmaker from office, “not people who draw cards.”

With adjustments finalized for legislative and congressional districts in November 2021, Martinez said lawmakers would bring forward a bill in extraordinary session to adjust the timing of residency requirements ahead of the April filing period for the 2022 election. .

“It will be settled. He will be pulled back for legislative and congressional seats, ”Martinez said. You will have plenty of time to move around, adjust, or determine where you are. We will make sure people have enough time.

Martinez said a “end of December deadline” for applicants to establish residency and registration could be on the table.

“[These are] meant to be the cards we take in special session, ”Paxton said. “The public contribution period has been going on for months. “

Martinez, however, noted that the contribution of citizens could be continuous.

“Since these maps are the subject of a normal legislative process, it’s amazing how representative government works,” he said. “If someone’s voters pull them off the hook and say, ‘This is a terrible card and it doesn’t work,’ well, I guess their senator and representative don’t want to support that kind of card. “

The proposed Oklahoma Congressional map can be found here, along with the revised proposal for the Oklahoma State Senate Districts here and Oklahoma House Districts here.

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