Four Big Questions (And Answers) About How Redistricting Could Affect Republican Representatives In Southern Colorado

Pikes Peak Colorado Springs
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Pikes Peak looms over Colorado Springs.

Colorado is getting another seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and that change significantly raises the stakes for the state’s new redistricting process. We asked CPR News Public Affairs reporter Caitlyn Kim, who’s based in Washington D.C., what redistricting could mean for the Pikes Peak region, and how it may affect longtime Republican representative Doug Lamborn. 

KRCC Question 1: Right now, Colorado is represented by three Republicans and four Democrats. Depending on how redistricting goes, either could grab hold of that new seat in the U.S. House of Representatives?

CK: This new seat means Colorado will have more say in Congress. It’s an open seat — in theory up for grabs to either party — which will be very important nationally as Republicans hope to take back control of the House in 2022. And creating a new district means the lines for every other district will change.

KRCC Question 2: Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn has represented Colorado’s 5th Congressional District — which includes El Paso County and Colorado Springs, a solidly red portion of the state — since 2007. What demographic changes are occurring in District 5 that could, eventually, make things more difficult for him to keep his seat.

CK: Rep. Lamborn is serving his 8th term in Congress, and he’s the longest serving Republican of the delegation. His district is the most conservative in the state — it’s a double digit plus Republican seat, where registered Republicans voters outnumber Democratic voters 159,000 to 93,000. 

That said, there are trends that could have long term implications.  Colorado Springs is getting younger and more unaffiliated. Last November, there were 184,000 unaffiliated voters there. As of May 1, there are 199,000 unaffiliated voters. And while Democratic Registration has remained steady, Republican registration in the county has dipped. And — this is what gives Democrats in the district some hope — according to the New York Times, the Colorado Springs metro area had the biggest swing in the country from Trump to Biden. Trump still won the county, but his vote totals were 11 points less in El Paso in 2020 than in 2016. 

KRCC Question 3: Colorado GOP Reps. Ken Buck and Lauren Boebert seem to be very vocal criticizing the Biden Administration or big tech, or talking about other issues that are important to the Republican base — but doesn’t seem like we hear from Rep. Doug Lamborn as much. Why do you think that is? 

CK: Honestly I don't know. He’s got the smallest twitter following of the entire delegation. That said, he has been tweeting more and sticking with the conservative talking points — dinging Biden on about the border and the green new deal. 

What I found interesting, at least going through Lamborn’s Facebook and Twitter, is his approach to the Space Command headquarters decision. I got a press release the day the decision was made, when he asked for an investigation into the decision made by the former president, when the investigation was approved…but none of that is shared on his social media. It’s weird because this is an issue Lamborn is working and fighting for.

KRCC Question 4: Just last week, we learned of a lawsuit against Rep. Lamborn, from a former employee who said he was fired for asking Lamborn’s office to follow COVID-19 protocols. Do you think this lawsuit will ultimately have any effect on the public perception of Rep. Lamborn?

CK: I asked a couple of people. And no public official wants to be sued, but in the end they don’t think it will hurt Lamborn. Some think it might help, the pandemic mandates didn’t go over well with a segment of the population in El Paso County. But we haven’t seen Lamborn’s reply to the lawsuit. We’ll know more after that, I think.

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