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2nd Congressional District could be getting smaller

Hartford - Stretching from the Massachusetts border to Long Island Sound, Connecticut's 2nd Congressional District is by far the largest geographically of the five in the state.

It soon could get smaller.

The legislative committee tasked with redrawing the district lines each decade to reflect new U.S. Census figures is expected to make some adjustments to the 2nd District later this summer as it reshapes the districts to keep them equal in population.

The decision by the General Assembly's bipartisan Reapportionment Committee - due Sept. 15 - will determine whether some current 2nd District residents will continue to be constituents of the 2nd District representative or whether they will be constituents of the 1st or 3rd District representative. The change would be effective for the 2012 congressional elections. Currently Democrat Joe Courtney represents the 2nd District while Democrats John Larson and Rosa DeLauro are the 1st and 3rd District representatives.

Judging by the numbers, some redistricting appears certain. Each of the five congressional districts in Connecticut is to have no more or less than 714,819 residents according to 2010 census figures. However, the 2nd district is somewhat bloated with 729,771 and neighboring districts 1 and 3 are slightly undersized at 710,951 residents and 712,339 residents, respectively.

Members of the eight-person reapportionment committee say it's too early to comment on what sections of the 2nd District, if any, will get lopped off. The district contains parts or all of 65 municipalities, and also runs the full length of the Rhode Island border.

State Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said members haven't devised any formal proposals yet and are waiting until they finish the last three of the five reapportionment public hearings. The final hearing is July 20 at the state Capitol complex.

"It's far too soon to make any pronouncements or predictions about anything," Looney said last week. "If there are any changes, they will be relatively minor compared to what happened in 2002."

What happened in 2002 was the elimination of Connecticut's 6th Congressional District in the northwest part of the state. Its Representative, Republican Nancy Johnson, went on that year to win election in the newly merged 5th District. She was later unseated.

The forthcoming reapportionment is generating anxiety among civic leaders in the Enfield area of northern Connecticut, who say they've heard rumors that their town could be placed in the 1st Congressional District, a more urban and densely populated district that includes Hartford.

The Enfield Town Council formally requested last week that the redistricting committee keep the town where it is.

"We believe Enfield is best served in the 2nd Congressional District," Enfield Mayor Scott Kaupin said Friday.

Some residents of the district's southern end are also worried. During the July 6 public hearing at Norwich City Hall, Paul Duarte of Groton told the committee that if the 2nd must lose 15,000 people, they should come from a single, smaller town rather than an aggregate of many communities spread over a distance.

Connecticut's population grew to 3,574,097 in the last census, a 4.9 percent increase over the past decade.

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