The lines have been drawn, putting most of Democrat-centric Thurston County, including Olympia, in Washington's new 10th Congressional District. U.S. Rep. Adam Smith's 9th district will, under the draft plan unveiled today, move northward, ranging from northeast Tacoma to Renton and encompassing Bellevue and minority-rich south Seattle.
The bipartisan plan drafted by Republican redistricting commissioner Slade Gorton and Democatic commissioner Tim Ceis keeps Tacoma in Rep. Norm Dick's 6th district and sends portions of Rep. Dave Reichert's 8th district over the Cascades and into Eastern Washington, making it even more conservative.
At first blush, it would appear that the new redistricting boundaries offer Democrats relatively secure holds on five districts, including Smith's and Dicks'. It also continues to give Republicans strong chances of preserving their claims to the four districts -- the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 8th. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler in the 3rd will keeps some of south Thurston County.
The redistricting compromise turns the 1st district, which Rep. Jay Inslee is departing to run for governor, into the toss-up category, evenly split between Republicans and Democratic-leaning communities. Its new lines encompass northeast King County as well as rural parts of Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties.
Gorton, the former U.S. Senator, believes the 1st district "may easily be the most evenly divided congressional district in the United States of America." Ceis, the ex-Seattle deputy mayor, meanwhile, says the new electoral map is a fair one and achieves balance across the state.
By centering the new district in and around Olympia, Denny Heck, former chief of staff to ex-Gov. Booth Gardner, has announced his intentions to run and has the full backing of the state Democratic Party.
The proposed plan is not final and at least three of the four voting commissioners -- two from each party -- must sign off on the new map. The commission has until Dec. 31 to complete its work or the job is assigned to the state Supreme Court.
We will update this post with reactions and analysis as the day goes on in.