PORTLAND (AP) – Democrats are vowing to oppose a redistricting proposal by the state’s highest court that would move Knox County from the 1st Congressional District to the 2nd Congressional District.

Phil Merrill, a lawyer for the Maine Democratic Party, said the 2nd District, already the largest district east of the Mississippi River, would become harder to represent under the Maine Supreme Judicial Court’s proposal.

“That district is already a huge challenge to get across,” Merrill said. “This would only make the district all that much harder to represent.”

Knox County, which has been in the 1st District since 1963, is predominantly Republican, with 9,856 registered Republicans and 7,077 Democrats, according to Dwayne Bickford, executive director of the Maine Republican Party.

Bickford said Republicans can live with the court’s proposal, even though it differs from the version advanced by Republicans.

Every 10 years, states adjust state and federal political districts to reflect population shifts documented in the U.S. Census. In Maine, officials must account for a shift of about 70,000 people from north to south.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court devised a redistricting proposal because the Legislature failed to reach an agreement. The court’s justices must adopt a redistricting plan no later than July 2.

The court’s proposal, unveiled this week, would also add the Lincoln County communities of Bremen and Monhegan Island to the district that covers northern Maine.

Democratic Rep. Michael Michaud currently represents the 2nd District in Congress. He and Democratic Rep. Tom Allen, who represents the 1st District, declined to comment on the court’s redistricting plan.

Spokespeople for the two congressmen said it would be premature to discuss the court’s proposal before the public has a chance to comment.

Democratic Party officials will oppose the plan at a public hearing Monday at the Cumberland County courthouse in Portland, Merrill said.

AP-ES-06-20-03 0216EDT

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