Colorado’s Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission released new draft proposals for the state’s House and Senate district maps Monday, foreshadowing the likely continued dominance at the statehouse by Democrats.

The newest version of the maps also boost minority composition in some parts of the state, when compared to earlier versions of the maps drafted in June, based on preliminary data, and prior to hearing recommendations from the individual Coloradans, along with advocacy organizations, during the commission’s statewide public input tour this summer.

The new draft maps released Monday will be further deliberated and modified in the coming weeks, before final maps are approved in October, but they are the first look at an official draft map that uses the delayed census data. Democrats look to have a lock on majorities in both chambers going forward, based on past election results, when aggregated into the newly drafted district plan.

State Senate

Using the draft maps released today, in the 35-member Senate, Democrats would have carried 20 of the new districts by greater than 5-point margins, considering the two-party vote in eight recent statewide elections used by the commission to measure competitiveness.

Republicans, by the same metric, would have won 11 of the new districts.

The remaining four Senate districts fall in the competitive category, with neither party winning the benchmark elections by greater than 5 points.

Democrats currently hold a 20-15 majority in the Senate.

The newest draft of the Senate map would also create more districts where Hispanic residents make up enough of the population to have an influence on election outcomes, compared to the preliminary draft map produced in July. That’s important because the federal Voting Rights Act, as well as the state constitution, require the creation of districts to empower minority voters, where possible, and avoid diluting their voting strength.

Twelve districts would have greater than 25% Hispanic composition; eight would have greater than 30% Hispanic composition; and seven would have greater than 35% Hispanic composition, compared to 10 districts, five districts and four districts, respectively, when compared to the preliminary draft map released in June.

State House

In the 65-member House, 36 of the newly drawn districts would have been won by Democrats by greater than 5-point margins, using the same eight recent statewide races to measure competitiveness.

Republicans would have won 23 of the remaining seats, using the measure of competitiveness.

Six of the remaining districts would have been decided by closer margins, under 5 points, so would be considered competitive.

Democrats currently control the House 41-24 seats.

Like the Senate draft map released Monday, Hispanic composition would be increased in several districts, compared to the preliminary draft map.

Twenty districts would have greater than 25% Hispanic composition, and 11 of those would have greater than 35% Hispanic composition, compared to 17 districts and nine districts, respectively, in the preliminary draft map from June.

Competitive districts

The new legislative maps released Monday by the staff of the independent redistricting commission show that if they were to be close to the final product, a handful of House and Senate districts that haven’t been competitive in the past could be, starting next year (using a 5 percentage point advantage for either political party as a competitive district threshold).

Take newly drafted House District 16 in Colorado Springs, currently represented by Republican Rep. Andy Pico. It would have a 1.3% Democratic lean, based on averaging eight statewide election results from 2016, 2018 and 2020. Pico, however, won his 2020 contest by more than 13 percentage points, and the previous holder of that seat, now-Sen. Larry Liston, also a Republican, handily won his last House contest by more than 20 points.

House District 50, drafted in Greeley in the new map proposal, hasn’t been represented by a Republican since Rep. Dale Hall, who held the seat in the 2004-05 sessions. It’s been won by Democrats ever since.

But Monday’s map shows the district as competitive, favoring Democrats by only 3.4%, using the same election results average.

Among the most dramatic changes is the new draft’s Senate District 16, which currently is west Jefferson County, including its mountain communities, and Gilpin County. Sen. Tammy Story of Conifer won a tightly contested race for her seat in 2018. She will have her hands full if the new map shows little change between now and when it is finalized. The new draft map shows the district as competitive, with 4.7% Republican lean. It also wouldn’t be largely west Jefferson County, either. The new draft district map has it including west Jeffco and the mountain towns, all of Park and Chaffee counties and a portion of Douglas County, all which lean Republican.

House District 22 in southern Jefferson County would also be considered competitive, with Republicans favored by 4.5%. It’s been on Democrats’ wish lists for several cycles and won by Republican Rep. Colin Larson in 2018 and 2020. But Larson is rumored to be interested in a run for Congress against U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Arvada. He hasn’t filed for re-election to his statehouse seat yet.

Monday’s draft map shows there is a second statehouse rep in the same District 22: Democratic Rep. Lisa Cutter of Littleton, whose current district — District 25 — includes the foothills communities west of C-470. Cutter was the first Democrat to ever win House District 25, close races in both 2018 and 2020.

House District 59, in southwestern Colorado, has been a ping-pong in some years, bouncing between Republican and Democratic candidates. Since 2015, it’s been represented by Democratic Rep. Barbara McLachlan, who heads for her fourth and final term in 2022. The new map shows it as competitive, with Democrats favored by a razor-thin 0.8%

Another competitive district is House District 35, in southeast Aurora. It’s split in half by E-470 with a small section just south of the Arapahoe-Douglas County lines. Its current House members are Republican Rep. Rod Bockenfeld of Watkins for the eastern part of the district, with the west portion covered by Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan of Centennial. It’s rated as a 1% Democratic leaning district.

Senate District 11 is currently represented by Democratic Sen. Pete Lee. The district includes west Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs. But that district, as the new draft map shows, is now competitive. Lee is up for re-election in 2022.

Across town, Senate District 12, in southeastern Colorado Springs and currently represented by Sen. Bob Gardner, a Republican who is term limited in 2024, is also rated as competitive in the new map.

Finally, House District 38 is currently represented by Rep. David Ortiz, D-Littleton, who won in 2020 in a district that has been Republican for the past decade. It also is rated as competitive, favoring Democrats by 2.8%.