SALEM, Ore. – A group of Republicans is challenging Oregon’s newly approved congressional map in court in a new lawsuit. The suit is being spearheaded by former Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno.
The word gerrymandering has been thrown around a lot this past month, as the Oregon Legislature took up the once every decade redistricting battle. Democrats, for the most part, said the process the majority party went through was just.
“The [Oregon] Senate passed fair, representative maps after months of public process,” said State Rep. Andrea Salinas, D-Lake Oswego.
Weeks after the maps were passed through Salem though, Republicans are challenging the newly approved Congressional map in court.
“You shouldn’t be allowed to draw your own district,” said State Rep. Kim Wallan, R-Medford.
State Rep. Wallan said how the redistricting maps were drawn helps the democrats win more seats in Washington D.C. Something many Republicans said is unfair and unconstitutional.
“If you’re looking for facts that are on your side, this case has a lot of facts that are on your side,” said State Rep. Wallan
Republicans believe the new congressional map could lead to Democrats controlling five out of the six Oregon seats in Congress. That’s something nonpartisan websites that measure ‘partisan advantage’ agree with.
Democrat State Sen. Jeff Golden, who represents much of Jackson County, sees the benefit for his party.
“I think an informed person would have trouble looking at you with a straight face and saying there is no partisan influence in this map,” said State Sen. Golden.
Golden said while other states have more obvious examples of gerrymandering, Oregon is no exception. He voted in favor of the map despite his perspective saying it meets the legal requirements. But he stands by what he said weeks ago, he hopes this is the last time legislators vote on redistricting as they’re personally invested.
“It makes no sense for people to draw maps for districts for they themselves might be running in or that their friends and allies might be running in,” said State Sen. Golden.
Both legislators said the lawsuit could be a major step toward doing the redistricting process through an independent committee in the future, especially to regain public trust.
It’s still unclear how the lawsuit will play out in the court system. It was filed Monday in Marion County Circuit Court. The suit asks the court to redraw the district lines ahead of the 2022 election cycle and make the state pay the Republicans’ attorney’s fees.