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GOP-driven redistricting plan spares northwest Ind. Democrat, shores up rookie Republican in Congress

INDIANAPOLIS (WPTA21) - A Republican redistricting proposal released on Tuesday would likely maintain a 7-2 GOP advantage in Indiana's congressional districts, based on recent voting trends.

It would make little change to the district representing most of northeast Indiana and held by three-term incumbent US Rep. Jim Banks, a Republican.

Analysts had been watching to see how the dominant party in the state would wield its power in the once-a-decade remapping effort.

While some states have taken steps to limit political influence, the party with the advantage in the legislature holds sway in Indiana.

Tuesday's release included a proposal for each of Indiana's congressional and state House districts.

Click here for a detailed look at the proposed map

While changes must be made to address shifting populations, Indiana did not lose or gain a seat in Washington in the most recent US Census and the changes here are not among the most closely watched by political analysts.

Indiana's Third Congressional District currently includes 10 northeastern counties in their entirety, along with portions of Blackford and Kosciusko counties.

The proposed map keeps the current 10 complete counties and folds in the remaining part of Blackford, for 11 complete counties. The eastern part of Kosciusko remains -- though the boundary shifts a little -- and northern Randolph County would become part of the Third District.

Politically, what is viewed as a "safe Republican" seat would maintain a strong GOP tilt.

Former Pres. Donald Trump received nearly two-thirds of the vote in the Third District in 2020, and the boundary tweaks would have done little to change that result.

The most significant shift in party appeal if the proposal is approved would come in the Fifth District, which would become significantly more "red."

First-term US Rep. Victoria Spartz, a Republican, holds that seat.

Some analysts and insiders had been watching to see if Republicans would try to "crack" the First Congressional District, held by Democratic US Rep. Frank Mrvan.

A "crack" would involve redrawing boundaries in a way that would eliminate what is currently an advantage to one party by moving some voters into another district and "importing" an area that tends to vote with the opposition.

Early assessments suggested no such effort was made.

The current Indiana congressional delegation includes 7 Republicans and 2 Democrats.

Indiana's Democratic Party has been critical of the process, including what it has characterized as a limit on public participation.

In a statement on Tuesday, chairman Mike Schmuhl said the propowed maps "keep in place a broken system where self-serving politicians benefit at the expense of Indiana families."

A proposal for new state House districts is also being studied. Proposed state Senate boundaries have not yet been released.

Jonathan Shelley

Jonathan Shelley is the news director at WPTA TV, which he joined in 2016 following nine years in a similar role in New Orleans and previous news management positions in Oklahoma City and Las Vegas.

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