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Iowa Releases First Proposal For New Political Boundaries

congressional map
Iowa LSA
Iowa's Legislative Services Agency released its first proposal for new congressional boundaries Thursday.

Iowa’s nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency released its first proposalThursday for new congressional and legislative district boundaries drawn to reflect population shifts within the state.

The congressional map proposes some major changes to Iowa’s four congressional districts, but all of Iowa’s members of Congress would still be living in their current districts.

Analysis from Dave Wasserman of The Cook Political Report shows the 1st Congressional District becoming much more Democratic, the 2nd District getting much more Republican, the 3rd District remaining very competitive, and the 4th District would remain a Republican stronghold under the proposed congressional map.

More than 50 state legislators would end up in the same district as another incumbent lawmaker. If these maps are approved, they would have to retire, move or run against one of their colleagues.

"No one's putting up 'for sale' signs at this point," Iowa Democratic Party Chair and State Rep. Ross Wilburn said. "We're still at the beginning of the process."

The Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission is holding virtual public hearings about the maps next week, and the Iowa Legislature plans to start a special legislative session Oct. 5 to consider the maps.

“Our nonpartisan redistricting process in Iowa is considered one of the fairest in the nation,” House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford, said in a statement. “After months of delays, we now have a proposed set of maps for redistricting in front of the Iowa Legislature. We will do our due diligence and review it thoroughly to ensure it is a fair set of maps for the people of Iowa.”

Grassley is one of the lawmakers who would end up in the same district as another incumbent representative.

House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst, D-Windsor Heights, echoed Grassley’s statement in saying Iowa’s redistricting process is considered very fair.

“The maps we received today were created following Iowa law, and were drawn by nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency experts,” Konfrst said in a statement. “That’s why I plan to vote yes on these maps, as they were presented to us today, when we convene for a special session on October 5.”

Under state law, legislators can vote to approve or reject the first set of maps. They cannot make changes to the first proposal.

How would congressional districts change if this map is approved?

Iowa’s 1st Congressional District would move from the northeast corner of the state to the southeast corner. It would include Linn, Johnson and Scott counties—some of the most populous counties in the state. The proposal includes the home of current 1st District Congresswoman Ashley Hinson, a Republican and Linn County resident.

Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District would move from the southeast corner of the state to the northeast corner, while also stretching into central and southeast Iowa. Story County would move into the district, and out of the 4th District. The new boundaries include the home of 2nd District Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican and Wapello County resident.

Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District would continue to include Polk and Dallas counties. But it would no longer include the far southwest corner of the state. The new boundaries include the home of 3rd District Congresswoman Cindy Axne, a Democrat and Polk County resident.

Iowa’s 4th Congressional District would span 44 of the state’s 99 counties. It would no longer include Story County, but it would add Pottawattamie County and the far southwest corner of the state. The new boundaries include the home of 4th District Congressman Randy Feenstra, a Republican and Sioux County resident.

Some Iowans who already announced their candidacy for various congressional seats would no longer be living in the district they intend to run in, under this proposal. They could either change their plans to run for office, or move into the district if this map gets finalized.

Democrat Christina Bohannan, a resident of Johnson County,recently announced she is running against Rep. Miller-Meeks in the 2nd District. Under this plan, Bohannan would no longer reside in that district. Republican Mary Ann Hanusa, a resident of Pottawattamie County, is running against Rep. Axne in the 3rd District. But Pottawattamie County would be part of the 4th District under this proposal.

This post was updated at 5:35 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 16.

Katarina Sostaric is IPR's State Government Reporter