Republicans & Democrats Miles Apart On Redistricting Congressional Districts 

A panel tasked with re-drawing Maine’s two congressional districts met Monday in Augusta. The commission is made up of Republican and Democratic lawmakers and they’re not seeing eye-to-eye on things. One incumbent congresswoman may not like what the Republicans have come up with.Democrats unveiled their Vassalboro plan first. It would simply move Vassalboro from District 1 into District 2. That means 4340 voters would switch districts.Under the Republican plan, more than 300,000 voters would switch districts. But there would only be a difference of one voter between the districts. The first district would have 664,181 voters while the second district would have 664,180. The Republican plan would also mean that while Democratic congresswoman Chellie Pingree could still legally represent District 1, her home would actually be in District 2. This sparked a debate between the two parties. “Well the notion is any congressman whether it’s in Maine or in Nevada could easily move and represent a different district,” said Democratic Senator Seth Goodall of Sagadahoc County. “But we want to preserve the integrity of our districts in this state. The uniqueness. And why would you ever have a congressperson living in a district where they don’t represent.”Republican Senator Debra Plowman was quick to point out that Pingree could still legally serve in District 1 even if her home is in District 2. Plowman says that’s up to the voters. Pingree spokesperson Willie Ritch told TV 5 news they would not comment on the proposed plan but did say this. “She certainly intends on continuing to serve in congress and we’ll see how this redistricting plays out.” “It doesn’t matter where she lives as long as she represents the district,” Senator Plowman told reporters. “The problem is she lives at the very tip top of the district so if we move one town or one part of the county or switch a county we can’t possibly protect it because of where she lives on the edge of the district.” The debate over this point got a bit testy during the meeting when Repuplican Ken Fredette of Newport and Democrat Seth Goodall had this exchange. “Is someone going to show me in the law or in a court decision where it’s going to say you need to take into consideration where your current sitting congressional members sit when you redraw a map. Does that exist?” asked Fredette. “That does not exist,” Senator Goodall responded, “but the question would be why would you do that based on the risks that would have to voter displacement as well as other relationships that help the state of Maine?” Fredette fired back, “I appreciate you answering with a question…if maintaining the status quo is essentially protecting two Democratic congressman that’s not what we’re here to do. We’re here to do apportionment.”The Republican plan would also move Androscoggin county, and its nearly 100,000 voters, to the 1st District. With Lewiston out of the 2nd district some folks here say it would make that district more Republican friendly. “I think in the final analysis if there’s going to be a deal cut really Androscoggin County will be the lynch pin of the deal.” They need to get a plan to the legislature by the end of this month. A special legislative session will meet in September to vote on the redistricting plan.