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Commission debates proposed Montana legislative district maps

Montana Capitol building in the snow.
Montana Capitol building in the snow.

Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on how data show the political leaning of the districts they’re drawing.

Democrats say the proposed map put forth by the Republicans unduly favors GOP candidates, giving them too many safe seats out of the 150 in the state Legislature.

During Monday’s meeting, Republican Commissioner Dan Stusek said his side heard that feedback and added competitive seats in a new, so-called compromise map as the commission enters initial negotiations.

“You know, want to be clear, that there’s certainly a sincere effort here in many of these urban areas to create more competitive seats, indeed blue-leaning ones," said.

But Democratic Commissioner Kendra Miller said based on the data the commission agreed on using, she doesn’t see the same result as Stusek.

“That’s not what the sort of win-loss record is on those seats that I’m looking at," Miller said. "If you’re seeing something different than me, then we should figure out why.”

Miller said Republicans aren’t making enough of an effort to draw seats competitive for Democrats. Republicans say they are focused on making districts compact and contiguous, which is a constitutional requirement for redistricting.

Commission Chair Maylinn Smith says she hopes the commission can settle on one map outlining 100 House of Representative seats by the end of the week. They’ll then take public comment before moving onto the state’s 50 Senate seats.

Copyright 2022 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Shaylee is a UM Journalism School student. She reports and helps produce Montana Evening News on MTPR.