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N.H. Republicans propose new congressional map, turning swing district into GOP stronghold

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Republicans in the N.H. House are considering a new map of the state's congressional districts that would make the First District (dark blue) significantly more Republican, surrounded on three sides by the state's Second Congressional District.

Republicans in the New Hampshire House are considering a redistricting proposal that would make the state’s First Congressional District – which has toggled between the parties but is now held by Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas — significantly more Republican.

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Some Republican leaders have been blunt in expressing their ambition to make that congressional district, which covers much of the eastern part of the state, friendlier terrain for Republican candidates. State GOP Chairman Steve Stepanek has gone so far as to say the district should be “guaranteed” to elect a Republican.

Gov. Chris Sununu, meanwhile, has promised to veto any congressional map that doesn’t pass what he’s called the “smell test.”

This new map, which the House Redistricting Committee is expected to discuss Thursday, proposes shrinking the First Congressional District geographically. Under the plan, the district would run from the towns of Hudson to Seabrook across the state’s southern border, before heading northwest to across the Lakes Region. It would lose a long slice along the state's eastern border, including several Democratic-friendly communities near the Maine border.

The Second Congressional District, which now comprises most of western and northern New Hampshire, would take up the rest of the state and surround the First District on three sides.

In the proposed GOP map, the Democratic strongholds of Portsmouth, Durham and Dover would be added to the Second District, while the First District would pick up Republican-heavy communities like Salem, Pelham and Windham.

Democrats decried the proposed new map Wednesday evening as an example of extreme gerrymandering, designed solely to boost Republican chances are capturing the First District seat. Democrats have held the district since 2016, but for the decade prior to that, Republicans and Democrats had alternated in capturing the seat every two years.

The House Redistricting Committee is slated to meet Thursday at 10.