(The Center Square) – Oregon’s population growth over the past decade has earned it a sixth U.S. representative for the next decade, but state officials participating in the redraw of political boundaries aren’t on the same page about the prospect.
U.S. Census officials announced this week that Oregon, along with Colorado, Florida, Montana and North Carolina, would gain a seat in Congress after their maps are redrawn in a process called reapportionment. Texas is the only state to see enough new residents to gain two new districts.
Oregon increased its headcount to 4,241,500 as of April 1, 2020, per the official census data. That’s a 10.6% increase from 3,831,079 in 2010. The state nearly gained a seat in 2010, which meant it was one of the first to see an additional district in the most recent count.
Oregon House Redistricting Committee Co-Chair Andrea Salinas, D-Lake Oswego, released a statement, saying the state will benefit from the additional member of Congress.
“Our state’s growth and changing demographics require a careful redistricting process that includes the voices, needs and stories of all Oregonians, including those who traditionally have been shut out of the political process,” Salinas said.
She stressed the redistricting process would be “inclusive, transparent, fair and responsive to the changing nature of the state.”
House Republican Leader Christine Drazan, R-Canby, reacted more skeptically to the news, saying a remap free of political gamesmanship is more important than ever.
“Now that we have equal representation on the redistricting committee, our legislative and congressional districts will be drawn in a way that avoids political gerrymandering,” Drazan said in a statement. “Our current maps have favored one political party over another for the past 20 years, but Oregonians can be confident that this sixth congressional district will be drawn according to the rules to give people fair representation.”
Democrats control all but one of the state’s congressional offices. The bipartisan group of lawmakers has until Sept. 27 to submit a map for judicial review.