Opinion and Forefront and Redistricting

EARLY: Either sing 'Kumbaya' or 'suck it up, cupcakes'

January 8, 2011

Rex EarlyThe election of 2010 was a Republican Party home run.

Here in Indiana, the House of Representatives went from a minority—48 Republicans and 52 Democrats—to a majority—60 Republicans and 40 Democrats. Coupled with the Republican Senate, Gov. Mitch Daniels will now have the votes to pass his public education legislation as well as other items on his agenda.

That’s important, but the real gift in the 2010 election is, the Republican landslide was nationwide and resulted in Republican majorities in legislatures all over the country.

Why was this so important? It’s map-drawing time. It’s time to reapportion.

In state after state, it will be Republican legislators drawing the new congressional House districts, which will be in effect the next 10 years. Santa Claus came early to the Republicans.

This could and should result in new districts the Republican congressional candidates can win, and it will certainly change the makeup of Congress.

As this map-drawing progresses, you are bound to hear the dirty word of “gerrymandering.”

Some examples of gerrymandering can be seen on the existing map drawn by the Democrats in 2001.

In the 2002 election, Republican legislative candidates got 58 percent of the popular vote but won only 49 seats. After the 2004 election, Republicans won 52 seats (three were won by a total of 383 votes) even though the Republicans got 60.3 percent of the total legislature votes.

The Democratic congressional map put two sitting Republican congressmen in the same congressional district. They did it by making a district from Monticello in the north to Mitchell in the south. It took half a day to drive it. (Steve Buyer won that district beating another sitting congressman in the primary.)

Now there’s probably some Republican legislators who remember those things and might utter things like, “It’s a long road without a turn” or “What goes around, comes around.” I believe in what Rodney King said: “Can we all get along?”

I am sure my fellow Republicans will come up with a “fair” map and forget the inequities of the map they lived with the last 10 years.

Our Republican secretary of state, Todd Rokita, who is a congressman-elect, has championed the idea of having the maps drawn by non-political people. Todd is right that we should come forth with a fair map. I am sure our fine Republican legislators can do just that.

I envision our Republican legislators coming forth with a map that even Todd will marvel at its fairness.

I am sure he will find it especially fair if we keep his district the most Republican district in Indiana. Even if it does run from Monticello in the north to Mitchell to the south.

Be that as it may, we will probably hear cries of gerrymandering. It would not be the first time, as the following newspaper article suggests.

“The Gerrymandering perpetrated by the radical majority in the Indiana Legislature puts to the blush all the rascally performance in that line which preceded it. Under the bill against which the Democrats rightly protest, the 184,000 votes who cast their ballots for the Radical candidate for Governor will select 30 Senators and 59 Representatives while the 185,000 who elected Mr. Hendricks Governor, will only be able to choose 20 Senators and 41 representatives. Who will deny that this is a deliberate fraud and who will attempt to defend it?”

This article was in the Lancaster, Pa., newspaper, The Lancaster Intelligencer, on June 4, 1873. The price of the paper was 2 cents.

I hope this year when the maps are finally drawn, both the Republican and Democratic legislators can all join hands and sing “Kumbaya.”

If that don’t happen, my advice would be, “Suck it up, cupcakes.” It’s only for 10 years.•

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Early served in the Indiana House and as a Republican state chairman, as well as on the Republican National Committee. Send comments on this column to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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