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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Commission debates proposed legislative district maps

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.”

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. 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.

Shaylee began covering state government and politics for Montana Public Radio in August 2020. Originally from Belgrade, Montana, she graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program and previously worked as a reporter for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and UM’s Legislative News Service. Please share tips, questions and concerns by emailing shaylee.ragar@mso.umt.edu.