Former Congressman Rob Bishop’s tantrum in quitting the Utah Independent Redistricting Commission illustrates the very reasons that Utah needed such a commission in the first place. His objections (and those of House Speaker Brad Wilson) are based on a demand with partisan implications that Utahns did not ask for and do not want.
Bishop and Wilson’s stated desire is to split the Salt Lake Valley among three districts and to put parts of rural Utah into all four districts. This is antithetical to the Commission’s redistricting standards to “preserve communities of interest” and to “minimize the division of municipalities and counties across multiple districts.” As a commission member, Bishop knew that going in — or at least he should have. Public lands is one of many issues for representatives, and deciding boundaries based on one issue serves no interest other than potentially diluting minority Democratic votes, which is textbook gerrymandering.
Contrary to Wilson’s assertion that the commission “isn’t working the way it was envisioned,” the candidate maps largely satisfy the redistricting standards, which reflect good government practices and the will of Utah voters. By rejecting the commission’s results, Bishop and Wilson reject voters’ will.