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Payback time? New maps put Indiana lawmakers home outside district

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Indiana's newly redrawn congressional maps have shifted U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita's home outside the district he represents a change Rokita blames on fellow Republicans he believes hold a grudge over his efforts to revamp the state's redistricting process.

The Times of Munster reports that Rokita's Indianapolis home is about 500 yards outside the new 4th District boundaries that state lawmakers approved last month and that were signed into law last week by Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Under the U.S. Constitution, members of Congress are only required to live in the state they represent, not the district. And Rokita, a first-term congressman, tells The Times of Munster that he plans to run for re-election in 2012 from his current home.

"Whether I'm in the district or 500 yards from it, I don't think it's going to be an issue," Rokita told The Times.

However, he said he believes the redistricting proposals he pursued as Indiana's Secretary of State may have annoyed some state lawmakers, who then drew him out of his district. As secretary of state from 2003 to 2010, Rokita championed a nonpartisan redistricting process that the Republican-controlled General Assembly declined to follow in this year's redrawing of legislative districts.

"I think once folks realize the politics of what happened, the fact that they moved the line 500 yards from where it used to be, and they know that I was a reformer for the lines and this was kind of a comeuppance thing I think folks will understand that," he told The Times. "I'm not a carpetbagger."

Republican State Sen. Sue Landske of Cedar Lake presided over the redistricting process in the Indiana Senate as chairwoman of the Elections Committee. She said the lines were not drawn to punish Rokita.

"I think he's tilting at windmills. That's not so, not at all," Landske said. "I didn't even know where he lived, to tell you the truth."

If Rokita wins a second term while remaining outside his district he won't be the first Indiana congressman not to live in the district he represents.

In 2002, Republican Chris Chocola of Bristol was elected to the 2nd Congressional District representing LaPorte County and north central Indiana, even though a 2001 redistricting put his home 1.4 miles outside the district.

That year, his Democratic opponent, former U.S. Rep. Jill Long Thompson, challenged Chocola on his residency during the campaign. But Chocola won 50 percent to 45 percent in 2002, and was re-elected in 2004.


Posted 5/16/2011




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