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Redistricting pushes French to start campaigning a year early

From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage --

The Alaska Democratic Party is trying to decide whether to sue over the state’s new redistricting plan. But Sen. Hollis French says he’s already about to start campaigning in his new district to get ready for the legislative elections in the fall of 2012.

“I’m going to start introducing myself to the people in my new district as soon as I can,” the Anchorage Democrat said.

French said his new district “is a little more conservative than the one I’m in.”

French, who was elected to the Senate after the last redistricting ten years ago, now has a district that runs east-west along Northern Lights roughly from C Street to the airport. His new district in the redistricting plan runs more north and south in the area of Jewel Lake road.

Alaska Democratic Party Executive Director Kay Brown has not responded to repeated phone messages this week about the party's redistricting plans. But Party Chair Patti Higgins told the Associated Press that a lawsuit is under consideration.

Others, like Alaskans for Fair Redistricting (a coalition of labor unions and Native Corporations), might also sue over the plan.

“I think a lot of people right now are sort of looking at the maps and trying to figure out which districts are the most ripe for a challenge, and can the interested parties who are considering bringing challenges link up and form a united legal front,” French said.

The deadline to file lawsuits over the plan is July 13. French said he’s not waiting for any possible court action to be resolved before starting to campaign.

“There are going to be some tweaks to this at some point down the line but it would be foolish of me to wait for that to happen…it’s a big district and there are a lot of new people,” he said.

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