Former House members Lance Pruitt and Dan Saddler, both Republicans, testified in support of the nonpartisan plan for Anchorage’s political boundaries at Saturday’s Alaska Redistricting Board hearing.
So did Republican activists Judy Eledge and Jason Warfield. Not many Republicans were tuned in on Saturday, but plenty of Democrats were available to criticize what they say is partisan gerrymandering, as they do.
The board is considering a nonpartisan Map 3-B plan and a Democrat Map 2 plan. Both hurt Republican representation in Anchorage, but Map 3-B would do the least harm, although it still takes the city down to three Republican Senate seats, two Democrat seats, and two toss-up districts. Anchorage appears to be on the verge of losing a Republican Senate seat.
Option 3 – Fair Senate pairings that put together House districts with similar socio-economic profiles (local road boards, avalanche, wildfire and public safety):
22 and 9 Eagle River and South Hillside
10 and 13 Bayshore and Taku
11 and 12 O’Malley and Abbott Loop (what was declared in November)
14 and 17 Midtown and Downtown
20 and 21 North Muldoon and South Muldoon
23 and 24 JBER and Chugiak
16 and 15 Airport and Sand Lake (what was declared in November)
19 and 18 U-Med and Mountain View
The surprise proponents on Saturday for the Democrat political boundaries, known as Map 2, were Republicans Sen. Lora Reinbold of Eagle River and Sen. Roger Holland of South Hillside. Those two senators would be paired in the same district and would have to run against each other this year. Evidently they don’t want that to happen.
Map 2 has an adverse impact on the military community by disenfranchising their vote, by taking portions of military votes and lumping them in with majority-Democrat voters, diluting their vote. Map 2 would leave Republicans with just two senators in Anchorage.
Option 2: (Anchorage loses two Senate Seats and JBER):
9, 11 Hillside
10, 15 Bluff
12, 13 Midtown
14, 16 Govt Hill
18, 19 Mountain View
23, 17 JBER/Government Hill
20, 21 Muldoon
22, 24 Eagle River
Already in the race for Holland’s seat is former Sen. Cathy Giessel, who almost certainly would not succeed if Eagle River is paired with South Hillside into a Senate district. By testifying for the Democrats’ map to strip Eagle River of some of its power, Holland might face an uphill battle if his district is extended north.
It’s unclear if Sen. Reinbold will run again. She appears to comprehend that it will be hard to retain her Senate seat if South Hillside and Girdwood were included in that new conservative district, which would stretch from Chugiak all the way south to the ski community, hugging the uplands.
Supporting the two Republican senators who testified was Yarrow Silver, a founder of the leftwing group Anchorage Action and member of Lower Scenic Foothills Community Council. Silvers, a registered nonpartisan, is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that forced the Alaska Redistricting Board to return to the drawing table on the Eagle River Senate district lines, after the Supreme Court told the board to take more public testimony. Much of the testimony has come from Democrats interested in gerrymandering the map to their interests.
There is no testimony expected at the Wednesday meeting, which has been moved to 1 pm, until after the board takes a vote on the maps. Testimony may be taken after the vote. Another meeting may be on tap for 1 pm Thursday.