ADVERTISEMENT

Oklahoma Republican leaders release new legislative maps

November 2, 2021 GMT
FILE - Rep. Ryan Martinez, R-Edmond, chair of the House Redistricting Committee, answers a question at a news conference announcing new state House and Senate districts, Wednesday, April 21, 2021, in Oklahoma City. Republican leaders in the Oklahoma House and Senate released new congressional district maps on Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, that show major changes to the competitive 5th Congressional District that Democrats narrowly won in 2018. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
FILE - Rep. Ryan Martinez, R-Edmond, chair of the House Redistricting Committee, answers a question at a news conference announcing new state House and Senate districts, Wednesday, April 21, 2021, in Oklahoma City. Republican leaders in the Oklahoma House and Senate released new congressional district maps on Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, that show major changes to the competitive 5th Congressional District that Democrats narrowly won in 2018. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
FILE - Rep. Ryan Martinez, R-Edmond, chair of the House Redistricting Committee, answers a question at a news conference announcing new state House and Senate districts, Wednesday, April 21, 2021, in Oklahoma City. Republican leaders in the Oklahoma House and Senate released new congressional district maps on Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, that show major changes to the competitive 5th Congressional District that Democrats narrowly won in 2018. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Republican leaders in the Oklahoma House and Senate released new congressional district maps on Monday that show major changes to the competitive 5th Congressional District that Democrats narrowly won in 2018.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

The proposed new 5th Congressional District map carves out a large chunk of Oklahoma City’s heavily Hispanic south side and Democratic core and places it in the strongly Republican 3rd Congressional District that stretches across western Oklahoma. It also adds rural portions of Lincoln and Logan County to the new 5th District.

“Oklahoma City will continue to have one majority congressional district with CD-5 and representation in two others, as it has for decades,” said Rep. Ryan Martinez, chairman of the House Redistricting Committee. “This is appropriate given the Oklahoma City metro area’s status as Oklahoma’s fastest-growing area, the public input received from many metro area communities, and statewide military base needs.”

Republicans won back the 5th District in 2020 when then-state Sen. Stephanie Bice defeated Horn.

Martinez said one of the priorities of the Redistricting Committee was to keep Tinker Air Force Base and Fort Sill in Lawton in the 4th Congressional District currently represented by Republican Rep. Tom Cole.

But House Democratic Leader Rep. Emily Virgin said the new maps, particularly the proposed new 5th Congressional District, doesn’t make sense unless the committee’s goal was to keep Democrats from winning back the seat.

“You have folks on the south side and in the core of Oklahoma City now sharing a congressional representative with folks in the Oklahoma Panhandle,” she said. “That doesn’t make any sense whatsoever unless your goal is to make sure a Democrat doesn’t get elected from Oklahoma.”

Andy Moore, the executive director of People Not Politicians, a group that tried unsuccessfully to get a state question on the ballot to give responsibility for drawing new maps to a bipartisan commission, said a quick look at the new map suggests it was gerrymandered to help Republicans.

“The congressional map is pretty clearly drawn to protect incumbent politicians,” Moore said. “And it very clearly cuts up Oklahoma City.”

Moore said minority voters currently make up 43% of the 5th District, which drops to 34% under the new district, something that could lead to a legal challenge of the new maps.

But Martinez said 87% of Oklahomans remain in their current congressional district and expressed confidence that the new maps will withstand any legal challenge.

“There’s no doubt in my mind ... that this will withstand judicial scrutiny,” he said.

The new 4th Congressional District looks similar to the current district, while the 1st Congressional District in Tulsa became more compact by shedding Washington County and about half of Wagoner County, and adding Sapulpa in Creek County.

The maps, along with new state House and Senate district maps, will be considered by the GOP-controlled Legislature during a special session that’s set to begin Nov. 15.

___

This story was first published on Nov 1. It was updated on Nov. 2 to delete an erroneous claim that Altus Air Force Base would be in the 4th Congressional District under the proposed electoral maps. It would be in the 3rd District.