Lawmakers getting handle on new districts

Sunday, April 13th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Members of Oklahoma's congressional delegation are coming home to visit their newly altered districts.

Some lawmakers will hold town meetings across the state next
week, a traditional spring activity.

All of Oklahoma's congressional districts picked up about
140,000 new residents last year as the state's allocation of U.S. House members was reduced from six to five. Each of the districts now has about 690,000 people.

But the geographical divisions weren't as neat. Republican Rep. Frank Lucas' district now stretches nearly 34,000 square miles and about 48 percent of Oklahoma. Lucas, who lives on a ranch in the western extreme of the state,had most of the western part of the state last year -- along with a district office in Oklahoma City.

Now his 3rd district goes into the Tulsa city limits to include
residents of Osage County, out to the end of the Panhandle and down to the southwest corner of the state.

His staff told The Daily Oklahoman's Washington bureau that it
is one of the 20 biggest U.S. House districts. Democratic Rep. Brad Carson, whose district also gained a huge hunk of land, now must spend a lot more nights on the road.

Getting back to his home in Claremore in northeastern Oklahoma from the counties in the southeastern corner of the state isn't practical, he said.

Carson's district, which had a major part of the northeast
quadrant of the state, now runs from the Kansas border to the Texas border.

Things have gotten easier for Rep. Ernest Istook, who now can
get from one end of his district to the other in 90 minutes. It
used to be five hours.

Most of his district is in Oklahoma County, and his longest
drive is to Seminole County.

The 1st District, represented by John Sullivan, R-Tulsa, is
still compact, comprised of Tulsa County and one county to the
north and another to the east.

The 4th District, represented by freshman Republican Tom Cole,
did not grow or shrink dramatically.

It still runs from Tinker Air Force Base down to Fort Sill and
includes Moore, Norman, Chickasha, Duncan and Lawton. It no longer includes Altus, but it now has Ada.