Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Redistricting Watch: Blue Dogs, on the Scent

Roll Call (no link, unfortunately) had an important story yesterday that has gone largely unnoticed by the media, what with all the other big stories making the rounds. But it will not go unmentioned here. The piece, by Erin Billings, reports that the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of 35 conservative Democrats in the House, voted as a group late last month to make redistricting reform one of their "priority policies" (along with fiscal discipline and social tolerance).

Rep. John Tanner (TN), the redistricting bill's main sponsor, said that while the Blue Dog Coalition continues "to mature with the political times, it also has a bigger goal of tempering Congressional partisanship and ensuring that moderate voices continue exist.

Congressional lines drawn by legislators across the country have made most districts so slanted to one political party or the other that centrist candidates have little chance of winning, he said.

'It gives us another means to promote the theory that in the people's house, a vibrant middle is important,' Tanner said. 'The Blue Dogs are what is left of the middle here.'"

Rep. Dennis Cardoza (CA), another cosponsor, said of taking on redistricting as a major initiative, "We've been waiting for this. I feel comfortable with it. I think a lot of Members do."

Kudos to the Blue Dogs. As my regular readers know, I've been discussing redistricting for a few weeks now, and am planning to be much more active on this front as we move forward. One of my major goals, and one in which I'm going to ask for you all to assist, is bringing more cosponsors forward to support Tanner's bill. As I've said before (links below), redistricting reform is hardly a partisan issue ... it's just as important and vital to Republicans as it is to Democrats. So we need to reach out to representatives from both political parties, from all states, and encourage them to join this cause. We'll also be working on finding support in the Senate for a companion bill, which of course is key to eventual legislative success.

So stay tuned. There's much more to come. This is not going to be an easy campaign, but it's a necessary one.

Previous Redistricting Watch posts:
- "Cosponsors Update" (7/1)
- "Links, News, and Views" (6/24)
- "Polarization & Collegiality" (6/24)
- "Centrist Action on Redistricting Reform" (6/23)


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