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December 21, 2010

Tierney optimistic that 6th District will survive redistricting

Despite population changes that require Massachusetts to give up one of its 10 seats in the U.S. House, Congressman John Tierney said he is confident his seat will not be sacrificed when state lawmakers redraw congressional district lines before the 2012 election.

"Since the Civil War, the 6th Congressional District has been an Essex County seat, and the cities and towns comprising the district have remained relatively consistent," Tierney said in a prepared statement. "There will be discussions during the next few months, and I believe our district should and will stay together."

Massachusetts is one of 10 states that will lose representation based on data released yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau. Eight states will gain seats and the remaining 32 will maintain their present number of representatives.

Though the state's population has increased 3.1 percent, to 6,547,629, since the 2000 Census, Massachusetts' growth has failed to keep pace with states in the western and southern part of the country. The last time the state lost a seat was 1990.

The population shifts highlighted in the once-a-decade census require the nation to reapportion the House's 435 districts to make them roughly equal in population, with each state getting at least one seat.

Beacon Hill lawmakers are responsible for redistricting. A decade ago, the process ended in court with former House Speaker Thomas Finneran, a Democrat, pleading guilty to a federal obstruction of justice charge after he denied playing a role in drawing districts for the new Massachusetts State House map.

Some in Massachusetts, including Republicans and Democratic Secretary of State William Galvin, have recently called for an independent redistricting commission to avoid a process Galvin has described as full of "secrecy and mischief."

But lawmakers have already taken steps to do the job themselves. Senate President Therese Murray has selected Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, an Amherst Democrat, to lead the redistricting effort in the Senate. House Speaker Robert DeLeo gave Rep. Michael Moran, D-Boston, the task of overseeing the redistricting process in the House.

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