Jim Brunner, Seattle Times, March 25, 2011
As work begins on reshaping Washington’s congressional-district boundaries, some local activists want to see the state create a district that–for the first time–would be more than half minority.
That could be done, just barely, by combining Southeast Seattle with the suburbs south of the city, where the minority population has exploded over the past decade.
The Win/Win Network, a nonprofit group, drew up the potential “majority people of color” district and plans to submit it to the Washington State Redistricting Commission, the bipartisan panel charged with redrawing the state’s political map this year.
The new district would stretch from Southeast Seattle to Federal Way. It would follow the boundaries of several legislative districts: the 11th, 30th, 33rd, 37th and 47th.
The “majority minority” district–one of the first new congressional district ideas to publicly emerge–faces some serious obstacles.
For starters, the idea of splitting the city of Seattle between two districts may prove controversial. The city currently is contained entirely within the 7th Congressional District.
Splitting Seattle could prove unpalatable to Republicans, since it would put the city’s overwhelmingly Democratic vote at play in two congressional races instead of one.
Another potential objection is that the district wouldn’t give a majority to any single ethnic or racial minority–rather it would treat all of them as a single bloc.
“It assumes it’s whites versus everybody else. That’s not very helpful,” said Richard Morrill, a Seattle demographer and University of Washington geography professor emeritus.