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Between the Lines: The Five Stages of Grief

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After Michigan Republicans spliced Rep. John Conyers’ Detroit-based district, the 24-term Democrat — in a clear case of denial — tried to release his own proposal to redraw the lines.

Meanwhile, the Democrat is contemplating running statewide if his district changes too much. Thatís a prospect that could prove to be a pain for Republicans ó and therefore is an effective bargaining chip for Matheson.

Bargaining even works sometimes. The new Illinois map initially moved Rep. John Shimkus (R) into a competitive district spanning the center of the state. But Shimkus worked with his Democratic allies in the state Legislature and an amendment passed at the last minute that moved his home into a safer GOP district that includes the southeastern part of the state.

4. Depression: a melancholy state frequently exhibited during litigation. The courts have taken control of the mapmaking process, or the Member has sued over his new district. Now all he can do is wait for a third party to decide his fate.

The most serious cases are ongoing in Colorado and Minnesota. Gridlock between the governor and state legislatures in those states forced courts to take up the maps.

However, the most extreme case of depression might be on the horizon. The new Florida map is far from being redrawn and released, but thereís already litigation over the process. Some redistricting experts speculate that court cases over the new map could push its resolution until after the November 2012 elections.

It certainly doesnít appear that there will be much sunshine in the state during redistricting.

5. Acceptance: when Members finally reconcile their political options and make a decision about their future.

Not every Member reaches this stage,  but experts say those who do accept their new districts are the most successful.

Rep. Timothy Johnson (R) accepted his future quickly and has already rented an apartment in his new district. Meanwhile, all of his Illinois GOP colleagues seem frozen and are keeping mum about their options while the map goes to court.

Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) announced he would run for Senate a couple of weeks after the new Congressional map passed in Indiana. Republicans redrew his House district to make it more difficult for Donnelly to win re-election.

Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) is reportedly now in the mix for a new job as athletic director at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Shuler will likely find out Friday what his redrawn district will look like and how many more Republican voters it will have thanks to the GOP mapmakers in the state Legislature. That could heavily affect his decision as he weighs his future.

Send news items on redistricting to Between the Lines here.

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