Mario Carrera, chairman of the Colorado Reapportionment Commission, has sidestepped responsibility for confusion over rules for submitting new maps from Republican and Democratic commission members.
Listen to the exchange in the video above from Tuesday’s meeting, during which a new legislative district map (submitted by Democrats on Sunday night) was approved on a 6-5 vote, with “unaffiliated” Carrera casting the deciding ballot.
Republican commission members said they were told the deadline to submit new maps was FOUR DAYS before Democrats submitted their version (which redraws several legislative districts to pit Republican officeholders against each other in primaries next year).
The Republicans were given direction by commission staff that new maps could not be submitted after the Nov. 23 noon deadline, but that small amendments would be allowed. That’s why Republican commissioners were so taken aback when a whole new map version, not just amendments to previous map submissions, was dropped late on Sunday night by the Democrats.
The back-and-forth at the hearing [from the video above] involves Republican commissioners Steve Tool and Mario Nicolais – along with Carrera.
Tool: “So I think there’s a very big distinction between brand new maps, which we were told we were not allowed to do, and amendments to maps that we presented.”
Carrera: “Commissioner Tool, I’m not sure who told you you could not submit new maps? Um, because if you’re talking . . .”
Tool: “Actually, though, you did. The rule was that Wednesday noon was the deadline for maps.”
Carrera: “Did you call me? Did you discuss that with me because…”
Tool: “No, that was the published information that we had.”
Carrera: “That’s not the case.”
Nicolais: “I talked to you. And I talked to you…”
Carrera: “You did talk to me.”
Nicolais: “And you told me there would be no wholesale…new maps.”
Carrera: “I don’t use the word wholesale. I think that’s your word.”
Nicolais: “Yes, yes, that’s what you said.”
Carrera told The Denver Post’s Tim Hoover on Tuesday after the meeting:
“They [Republicans] were outsmarted in terms of the approach that they took when they saw that there was a (Democratic) map submitted that was actually better than they maps they had drawn,” Carrera said. “They were caught flat-footed, and they had nothing else other than to blame other people for their own lack of coordination.”
Media consultant Michelle Balch Lyng wrote to me: “I’m not sure that I’m comfortable with a member of the commission praising the craftiness of the Democratic map strategy. I guess I would prefer that he simply offer constitutional rationale – not a glorified version of ‘don’t hate the player, hate the game’ sort of a thing.”
Carrera is showing his bias with comments that the Democrats won because of superior political gamesmanship.
Nicolais responded to Carrera’s comments on Fox 31:
“It’s really easy to be outmaneuvered when the chairman lets the Democrats play by different rules,” Nicolais said. “He made up his mind he was going to vote for a Democratic map come hell or high water.”