One move in Colorado's congressional redistricting square dance would have had Democratic Rep. Tim Wirth, who now represents suburban bedroom communities and the state's major college town, speaking on behalf of rural apple farmers.
Another would have split Democratic Rep. Roy Kodogsek's home town of Pueblo in half.
But all three of the redistricting plans passed this year by the Republican-controlled Colorado legislature have been vetoed, often with strong and disapproving words, by Democratic Gov. Richard D. Lamm.
Now, many months after the 1980 census showed that Colorado would gain a sixth seat in the House of Representatives, the partisan deadlock has gone to federal court. If an agreement cannot be reached out of court this month, the case will go to trial.
"We constantly decry the federal court's involvement in state affairs, yet the Republican Party runs to the courthouse to further its political agenda," a frustrated Lamm snapped recently.
The Colorado Republican Party, led by former Army secretary and Georgia congressman Howard (Bo) Callaway, sued Lamm and other state officials in late September, asking the court to declare the current district lines unconstitutional for use in the 1982 elections. The suit also asked that, should compromise not be reached by early November, the court adopt the last plan passed by the legislature.
"Nobody, not the Lord himself, can design a plan that doesn't do some injustice somewhere," said Callaway, who has argued that he wants only a "competitive" plan for reapportionment.
Conceding that the Lord can't do the job, Callaway has contented himself with the prospect of a three-judge panel that would be named before Dec. 1 if the matter goes to trial. The court, meanwhile, has asked parties for both sides to show up in the courtroom today to talk out their problems.
Everyone involved is putting on the best face to make the possibility of compromise before trial seem real, but privately no one, from Lamm to the GOP legislative leaders, expects a settlement short of a trial.
"Everybody is getting a little antsy about this because a judge has the power to do damn near anything," said Ron Strahle, a Republican legislator and co-author of the most recently vetoed reapportionment bill.
Under his plan, all three currently Democratic districts would be split. Patricia Schroeder's Denver district would be partly broken off and heaped in with predominantly Republican suburbs. Kogodsek, whose sprawling district now encompasses the southern third of the state, would represent an equally vast Western Slope district, but his home town of Pueblo, the most industrial and Democratic city in Colorado, would be cut in half. And Wirth, now the congressman from Denver's western suburbs, including the liberal college town of Boulder, would have some of his liberal territory torn away and replaced with more conservative rural area.
The state's two Republican districts, represented by Ken Kramer and Hank Brown, would remain solidly Republican.
Still, Wirth fares better under this plan than under an earlier one that would have put some of the heavily Republican Western Slope into his district.
"All the Republican plans have split Democratic counties. None of them split Republican counties. It's almost laughable to think any of those would be accepted," said Ann Bormolini, state Democratic chairwoman.
But nobody is laughing as the battle drags on with no winners in sight.
Close registration figures have made the problem even worse. Republicans want a registration edge in at least four of the new congressional districts. Lamm has insisted throughout that he will accept a plan that is no worse than a 3-to-3 split.
This is nothing new, however, in a state where the governor and the legislature have agreed on little in the seven years since Lamm was first elected.
Lamm has speculated that the court maneuver may be part of what he calls a Republican "two-year strategy."
"If the court were to impose its plan only for the 1982 elections, the Republicans may well be hoping they can go at it again in 1983--perhaps with a Republican governor or veto-proof legislature," Lamm said.
Although his wife recently underwent cancer surgery, Lamm seems to be leaning toward running for a third term. He is considered a popular governor, and the list of potential opponents to him next year grows longer but relatively undistinguished.
Colorado is one of several states being closely studied by the national party organizations, with Republicans hoping to gain a "working majority" in the House, and Democrats pressing to preserve their slim lead there. For Colorado, where growth has come swiftly and with no small pain, the reapportionment fight has been a new and not particularly comfortable experience.