News Tribune story shares Probst, Benton redistricting emails

The News Tribune in Tacoma recently wrote a story based on emails between state lawmakers, political parties and the state’s redistricting commission, which was tasked with redrawing voter district lines based on population changes in the 2010 Census.

In it, the Tribune published a couple of interesting emails from state Rep. Tim Probst, D-Vancouver, and Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, who are facing off this election season for Benton’s 17th District Senate seat.

The Tribune reports that, following the release of the new voter district map, Probst and Benton both felt disadvantaged by the changes.

“It sounds like the 17th gets even tougher for me personally, but I know you two did an amazing job balancing many interests,” Probst was quoted as writing to two Democratic legislators on the Washington State Redistricting Commission.

Meanwhile, the Tribune reported that Benton had this response to the new map: “Are these the only changes in the District? If so, then (Republican redistricting commissioner) Slade (Gordon) and our people did a horrible job for me because what I lost could not have been more conservative territory. If this is all the change there is, then I got really screwed. It is obvious the Democrats won big on redistricting!”

The story (which you should read if you haven’t already) reveals that winning elections appears to be the dominant factor at play when voter lines are being redrawn. It must have been a satisfying read for Vancouver voter advocate John Milem, who has taken the new voter map to the state Supreme Court because he says it was created in a way that violates the democratic process outlined in the state’s constitution.

Under the new redistricting plan, Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, is in the 20th legislative district rather than the 18th. Meanwhile, the 3rd Congressional district belonging to U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas, has acquired more conservative communities east of the Cascades while losing the more liberal Olympia area.

And the 17th District that Probst and Benton are fighting to represent is now slightly more Republican, according to the Tribune. An estimated 51.61 percent of the district is now Republican, the Tribune reports.

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