Reporter's Notebook: Rep. Moran on redistricting: He’ll focus on Eighth’s majority-minority numbers

The Massachusetts House’s redistricting chief is keeping a keen eye on the Eighth Congressional District.

State Rep. Michael Moran, a Brighton Democrat who is helping lead the effort to redraw the state’s political fault lines, dropped in announced at a Saturday meeting of the Massachusetts Black Empowerment Coalition For Redistricting in Dorchester.

Moran pledged to them that he would be “particularly focused” in his efforts on maintaining majority-minority power in the Eighth, a district currently represented by Congressman Michael Capuano (D-Somerville) that includes parts of Dorchester and Mattapan.

Massachusetts is due to lose one of its ten Congressional seats, with the 2010 Census showing that populations in other states are growing faster than the Bay State’s. Instead of ten districts of about 635,000 residents, Moran and his state Senate counterpart, Stanley Rosenberg (D-Amherst), will have to draw up nine districts of about 727,514 each.

Complicating matters in Boston is the decline in Suffolk County of some minorities – black and African-American numbers fell by 1.2 percent – and an increase for others -- white resident numbers rose by 12 percent. Suffolk County, comprising Boston, Chelsea, Winthrop, and Revere, falls into three Congressional Districts: the Eighth, the Seventh (represented by Ed Markey), and the Ninth (represented by Stephen Lynch).

“It’s something I have my eye on,” Moran told the minority-backed coalition at the meeting at the Boston Public Library’s Grove Hall branch. Several dozen activists were in attendance.

The state’s last redistricting effort in 2001 didn’t end well: Then-House Speaker Thomas Finneran was indicted for perjury over a plan critics said diluted minority voting power, a charge the Mattapan Democrat angrily denied. He later pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice.

Moran promised an open process, saying March will feature the kick-off of 12 public hearings, likely on Monday evenings and Saturday mornings, through to the end of June. There will also be a website, he said, with old maps and case law.

He hopes to have a redistricting map done for the Massachusetts House done by November, and for all the other maps – state Senate, Congress, and the Governor’s Council – to be done several months after that.

He is “fully expecting lawsuits,” Moran added, noting that many states were hit with lawsuits after redistricting ten years ago.

Asked by one attendee what influence members of Congress and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino will have on the process, Moran said, “They have a voice just like you.”

Hassan Williams, a Roxbury resident who unsuccessfully ran for the Second Suffolk Senate seat last year, asked about a rumor that Secretary of State William Galvin has his own map. Moran said he hadn’t seen any such thing. “The secretary and I may not see eye to eye on some things,” he said with a smile.

Congressman Lynch remarks on ‘beatable’ Brown, ‘bionic’ Menino

Congressman Lynch can’t get away from the Scott Brown question. The South Boston Democrat was asked again – on Channel 5’s Sunday chat show, “On the Record,” – if he will be among the candidates running to replace Brown, who is up for re-election in 2012 after winning a special election to replace the late Edward Kennedy in 2010.

Lynch told the show’s hosts Ed Harding and Janet Wu that he isn’t yet focused on 2012. “I think that’s just too far away at this point,” he said.

Asked if Brown is unbeatable, as Mayor Menino once described the Wrentham Republican, Lynch said, “I think anybody’s beatable. You know, I think it depends on what is happening when voters go to pull that lever or slide that sheet in to vote in November of 2012. Which is a long way off, so a lot of things can happen between now and then.”

Lynch acknowledged that he expected a “roomful” of Democrats to run for the seat.

According to Gov. Deval Patrick, at least four are potentially in. Patrick told the National Journal’s Jim O’Sullivan that he has talked with Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, City Year founder and former Senate candidate Alan Khazei, unsuccessful lieutenant governor candidate Bob Massie, and Newton Mayor Setti Warren. “Kim is not in; she has not made up her mind, but I know she’s thinking about it seriously. But Alan and Bob and Setti are in, for sure,” Patrick told O’Sullivan.

Congressman Capuano is also reportedly weighing a run.

On Channel 5, Lynch was also asked if he had any interest in running for mayor if Menino, who is serving his fifth term, retires. “Tom Menino will never retire,” Lynch quipped. “He’s got so many bionic parts now, that he’s actually – he’s good for another fifty years.”

Henriquez, Menino administration officials are on El Planeta power list

Two months into his freshman term, state Rep. Carlos Henriquez has made El Planeta’s Power 100 list. The state’s largest Hispanic newspaper named the Dorchester Democrat, who replaced former state Rep. Marie St. Fleur last fall, and others in state and city government, as the Bay State’s other strata.

Others on the list include Gov. Patrick, Mayor Menino, City Councillor At-Large Felix Arroyo, Menino’s “closest Latino advisor,” Enerio “Tony” Barros, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, state Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez of Jamaica Plain, Boston Schools Superintendent Carol Johnson, Barbara Ferrer, commissioner of the Boston Public Health Commission, and Ralph De La Torre, the head of the Steward health care system.

State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, who represents the Second Suffolk District in the state Senate, made the list for the fourth time.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out updates to Boston’s political scene at The Lit Drop, located at Material from State House News Service was used in this report.