Idaho's Republican redistricting Commission Co-Chairman Evan Frasure responded Friday to my column regarding a GOP plan that some Republican moderates suspect targeted them by pitting them against incumbents.
Frasure, who served five terms in the Senate from 1992-2002, opened Friday's meeting by saying, "It really bothers me when I see it reported -- even implied -- that I would be out plotting against my fellow senators."
The GOP plan, known as "L34", would put 12 GOP senators in primaries, including all eight Republicans who opposed Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's K-12 reforms. Voters will have a chance to affirm or reject the three laws in November 2012.
Frasure said he served with six of the eight incumbents, adding, "I consider them friends and allies. I have great respect for them."
Frasure, however, said he'd heard from most of the dozen GOP senators placed in primaries under the plan. "They are not happy."
But Frasure said the Republican commissioners are following the law -- which prohibits consideration of incumbent protection.
"You may see a lot of plans you don't like," Frasure said. "Sorry. Our job is not to protect you as an incumbent."
Following Frasure's opening statement, GOP Commissioner Lou Esposito presented three more plans. One of those, L38, failed to comply with two statutory provisions that lawmakers added since the 2001 redistricting: that a state or federal highway connect individual districts and that precincts not be split. The law says those requirements may be waived by five votes on the commission of three Republicans and the Democrats. (The Idaho Constitution, however, requires only four votes for final plans).
Esposito moved to approve a road waiver for districts in north central Idaho. Republicans voted for the waiver, two of the three Democrats voted no and the third, Julie Kane, abstained.
Frasure told Kane she was required to vote under Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure, prompting bickering among commissioners. Republicans chose Mason's over Roberts Rules of Order, the Democrats' preference, when Frasure was chairing a recent meeting.
Democrats said they needed more time to review the new map. "I'm simply not prepared to vote for something I haven't had a chance to review."
Democratic Co-Chairman Allen Andersen then read a statement saying that he was suspicious of the GOP push to vote.
"I find the action to be extremely suspect," Andersen said. "I ask myself, why is the other side being so insistent on voting at this time? What are the consequences of voting now? Is there something that they are withholding or is there something that we have not thoroughly thought through? Wouldn't it be better for us to take some time to make sure that all legitimate interests are truly being met?"
When the commission took a break, Frasure and Andersen exchanged sharp words. "I don't trust you!" Andersen said. Frasure objected to Andersen's having a prepared statement: "You obviously weren't surprised! You can lay bear traps for me all day if you like."
Andersen said he prepared the statement when the GOP was pressing for a vote on a congressional map in July, but didn't read it. He said he was angered by the pressure to vote Friday, when the Democrats hadn't had time to examine the map, and retrieved his statement.
After a break, Democrats sought to adjourn for the day and cancel a meeting set for Saturday. But the Democrats' motion died on a 3-3 vote. Republicans said they wanted to discuss a new legislative plan and a congressional map submitted by the public. Democrats then said they'd be happy to do that. The panel reconvenes at the Capitol at 10 a.m. for its first Saturday meeting. The commission is off all of next week. It has meetings scheduled every day from Aug. 29 to Sept. 4.
The commission's deadline is Sept. 4. If they don't complete the job, the Idaho Supreme Court has original jurisdiction to resolve the matter.
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