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December 22, 2010 at 1:24 PM

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8th District must shrink most in redistricting

Posted by Jim Brunner

All of Washington's nine current U.S. House districts will have to shrink to make room for the new 10th district -- and none more so than the Eastside's 8th District, now represented by Republican Dave Reichert.

Take a look at the new map (click for larger PDF) by the staff of the Washington State Redistricting Commission. It shows how "overpopulated" each current congressional district is once you account for a 10th. (The numbers in parentheses represent the amount each district grew over the past decade.)

The 8th tops the list -- it needs to shed 137,570 people when the political maps are redrawn. That could put pressure on Reichert if the more conservative Pierce County portion of his district is lopped off, as noted in today's story on redistricting and the census.

But there is plenty of room to maneuver as Democrats and Republicans start the redistricting process. Former state Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance told seattlepi.com he could forsee a new district centered around Bellevue, leaving Reichert safer in an 8th District now centered more around South King County.

The 3rd District of southwest Washington needs to shrink by 115,002 people, leading to early speculation it will be smooshed south along the Columbia River, losing Thurston and Lewis Counties. That could make the district more safely Republican for newly elected Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler.

Every other district will also need to shrink somewhat, with the least change in store for Seattle's 7th District, which is only overpopulated by 33,851.

The redistricting commission, evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, will spend 2011 hashing out the new maps. The panel is expected to hold public hearings across the state.

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