WASHINGTON -- Congressman Michael Capuano took aim today at Senator Scott Brown's advocacy for a reconfigured Suffolk County voting district aimed at empowering minority voters, saying his current district already fits that criteria.
"Senator Brown is entitled to share his opinion on redistricting. But he is not entitled to his own facts and the facts could not be clearer," the Somerville Democrat wrote in an email newsletter to constituents and supporters.
The comments came in response to a letter that Brown, a Republican, wrote yesterday to the co-chairs of the state's legislative redistricting committee. In the letter, Brown said an analysis of the state's existing congressional map leads to "the only logical conclusion.... that it was drawn for the purpose of protecting incumbents."
"A new congressional district centered in Suffolk County that creates a majority-minority seat under the Voting Rights Act should be seriously considered," he wrote, along with more state legislative seats where most of the voters are minorities.
Brown did not specify in the letter whether such a district would abut or absorb any existing districts, but voting rights advocates said that a new voting rights district could include parts of Capuano's, or the 9th Congressional District, which Stephen Lynch represents.
But Capuano said that minorities already make up over half of his district, and includes about two-thirds percent of Suffolk County's population. Created after the 2000 Census, it's the state's first and only majority-minority district, he said, and fits the definition established by the Voting Rights Act.
"Hopefully, in the near future I can persuade Senator Brown to take a tour with me in the current majority non-white Congressional District that is centered in Suffolk County," he said.
Eric Fehrnstrom, a former Mitt Romney spokesman who is advising Brown's political committee, said that when Brown talks about creating opportunities for minorities to serve in Congress, "he isn't referring to Mike Capuano."
"A new district that increases the percentage of minority voters will improve the chance a minority actually gets elected to Congress," he said in an email.
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.