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Plan shifts Indiana GOP areas to Donnelly's district

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A redistricting plan proposed Monday by Republicans who control the Legislature would shift several GOP-leaning areas into the northern Indiana congressional district narrowly won last year by Democrat Joe Donnelly.

The congressional map puts all of Elkhart County and much of Kosciusko County into Donnelly's current district and removes part of Democratic-leaning LaPorte County and all of Kokomo. The changes could make it more difficult for Donnelly to win re-election. He narrowly defeated Republican Jackie Walorski last year, and she has already announced plans to run again in 2012.

The shift is just one included in maps the Senate Election Committee proposed for Indiana's nine congressional and 50 state Senate districts.

The congressional map also would extend what has been a swing district won last year by Republican Todd Young further north to include all of heavily GOP Johnson County just south of Indianapolis. The 9th district starts in the Ohio River counties near Louisville.

The proposal also would give southern Indiana's 8th district won last year by Republican Larry Bucshon more of the counties along the Ohio River east of Evansville.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long R-Fort Wayne, said the proposed congressional districts are more compact and more representative than those drawn by Democrats when they controlled redistricting in 2001.

Long said political considerations weren't as important as keeping counties together, and he expected the districts now held by Donnelly, Bucshon and Young to remain competitive.

"We've tried our best to keep counties intact where we can," he said.

Nine of the state's 92 counties would be divided between two congressional districts under the Senate committee plan. The other 83 would be single-district counties.

Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, criticized the changes proposed for Donnelly's and Young's districts.

"Clearly those are politically motivated lines there that have been moved," Lanane said. "This was something that we feared might happen, particularly with Representative Donnelly's district."

Donnelly, who was elected last year to his third two-year term, has known significant changes to his district boundaries were possible and has been considering whether to run for the U.S. Senate or governor.

The Senate Elections Committee is expected to vote Wednesday on advancing the proposed maps to the full Senate, where Republicans hold a 37-13 majority. The House election committee was releasing their proposed state House districts later Monday.

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  • At-large not a large idea
    Electing 9 At-large candidates may seem more fair, except when it comes time for the representative to do their jobs - then who are the representing? You would see a dearth of responsibility among representatives that would make party walk-outs look mild.
  • Do away with districts altogether.
    Why not just have an at-large slate, and the nine candidates with the most votes go to Washington. (vote for only one of howmanyever there are on the ballot). Can't get much fairer than that.
    • Dichotomy......
      Am I the only person sick of the false dichotomy that is our political system? It is obvious that the splitting of Marion County is to reduce any democratic representation and provide Hamilton County area with a few more rich white folks to balance out us poor minorities in the city which happens to be the population center and economic engine of the state. For the "freest country in the world" we sure don't have a lot of choices!
    • Electoral College Just Fine
      TAPSIB,

      There's nothing wrong with the electoral college. It is a necessary part of our republic, needed to protect the interests of smaller states from the mobs in big cities. Without it, our presidential candidates would only campaign in a few populous states. While I agree that gerrymandering needs to be addressed, districts need to be adjusted from time to time to take into account the shifts in population.
    • Whose district is it?
      Lanane (D) said: "This was something that we feared might happen, particularly with Representative Donnelly's district."

      This Dem think that they own the district. Really is is the citizen's district. More accurately, those citizens who live in the district. How can this Dem state that it is Donnelly's district? This destructive mentality is prevalent in our corrupt political systems.
    • Morally reprehensible?
      Sour grapes. Was it also morally reprehensible when Dems controlled the redistricting in 2001?

      A grid pattern would work great if population densities would follow grid patterns. But population densities don't follow grid patterns and population densities change. If districts aren't re-drawn the value of individual voters votes becomes very unequal.

      This procedure is perfectly natural and necessary.
    • We don't like what the people want, so lets change the boundaries...
      Our election systems from the ground up need to be overhauled. From the horribly flawed electoral college system (a remnant from 1788 when we only had 13 states) to the gerrymandering districts that are more like war strategy than a clear representation of the constituents of our democracy.

      This is a stupid procedure and districts should be standardized and constant. The ability to "chip" away at the votes of an opponent by counting them in the surrounding districts is morally reprehensible. We need to fight for a better system to better represent the actual makeup of our state, other states, and our country as a whole.

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