Politics in Oregon mirrors politics in DC:
Democrats: Oh please, please negotiate with us! We'll pre-emptively redraw the Congressional boundaries in your favor so you don't have to!
Oregon is one of few states in which Democrats are fortunate enough to completely control the redistricting process for their State Legislature and for the Congressional delegation. Democrats have a 3/5 majority in both houses of the legislature, the Secretary of State is a Democrat, and almost all sitting judges were appointed by a stream of Democratic Governors that has been unbroken since 1987.
The one tool that Republicans have is the ability to deny a quorum to the legislative session by failing to appear. If they do this in the redistricting session, the SoS draws the legislative districts unilaterally (meaning, Democrats win), and a panel of judges appointed by the liberal Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court chooses the Congressional map (meaning, they almost certainly select the official map made by a majority of the legislature, and Democrats win).
And so, naturally, the Republican minority has stonewalled, obstructed, walked out, held their breath, and refused to participate at every turn. Just like in Congress, with the distinction that there is no filibuster and their refusal to participate effectively forfeits their ability to influence the redistricting at all. But they don’t care. Hatred of Oregon is their only motivation, and creating clusterfucks and destruction their only goal.
And so, equally naturally, the Democratic majority has done its best to kick away its own power and unnecessarily empower the Republicans to block them further.
Earlier in the year, House Speaker Tina Kotek, normally a good Democrat, outraged our members of Congress by agreeing to let the House Redistricting committee contain equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans, allowing any maps not approved of by the minority party to die in committee...which they did.
Democrats further drew up a Congressional map which, unlike my proposed 6D, 0R map pictured above, allows Republican Cliff Bentz to keep his sprawling Greater Idaho district while making the other five seats reasonably solid. All right, taking off my “partisan Democrat” hat, it seems like a reasonable compromise. But, in typical Neville Chamberlain fashion, they OPENED with the reasonable compromise, allowing the Republicans to screech with performative horror and call THAT the gerrymander.
Meanwhile, Republicans unveiled their own map, which was predictably, an obscenity...and then refused to budge an inch from it.
Similarly, I can make a map that restricts Republicans in the legislature to 7 out of 30 State Senators and 16 out of 60 Representatives. Democrats bent over backwards to be fair, and produced maps that gave Republicans between 8 and 12 Senators and 17 to 19 House members, close to the current lineup.
All of that is old news.
This week, the Senate approved the Congressional and legislative maps immediately. House Republicans could probably have influenced the maps further rightward just by holding up Lucy’s football and promising to really and truly not pull the ball away, this time. Instead, they opted to refuse to negotiate at all.
Speaker Kotek eventually did the sensible thing and removed the extra Republicans from the redistricting committee. It was the only way for anything at all to pass. Republicans again performatively screeched that their precious right to obstruct and destroy was being stolen from them.
Again, Kotek had not been required to offer them this chance to participate at all. She did so out of a misguided hope that Republicans would cooperate towards a reasonable compromise, just like they have never done since the Newtist era. The Republicans had their opportunity, and they squandered it.
Which brings us to today’s news.
Remember: a Republican walkout gives the Democrats the power to draw the legislative maps they want—presumably more partisan than the maps currently on the table, and likely to give 2/3 Democratic majorities to both Houses, such that they will no longer need any Republicans to achieve a quorum; and lets the judges, who will presumably look favorably on the legislature’s choice, draw the Congressional map.
And so the House Democrats unilaterally redrew the Congressional map to give the Republicans Oregon’s new Congressional district, for a shocking 4-2 split.
And the Republicans rejected it and walked out.
Assuming they don’t come back by the end of the day Monday, they will have ended their ability to participate, and cost themselves a Congressional seat and some legislative seats, JUST for the benefit of crying crocodile tears and shouting the fiction that Oregon Democrats are too partisan.
And our elected legislature will have been prevented from unnecessarily sending a second Republican to tamper with the Federal government, by the very Republicans who would have benefited from it. The ones Democrats were supposed to be opposing in the first place.
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