HARTFORD -- The panel of legislative leaders who will redraw Connecticut's political map over the next five months met for the first time Friday, promising to keep the effort bipartisan.

They said it's too early to decide how much the 2010 census will affect congressional and legislative district lines.

But one of the panel's newly selected chairmen, House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, said it will be important to retain the historic pattern of keeping House districts confined to single towns.

The 4.9-percent increase in population over the last 10 years will most likely affect all the state's five congressional maps; the 36 Senate districts; and the 151 House seats.

Sharps increases in population in Tolland, Middlesex, Windham and New London counties may result in some of those towns getting swept into western Congressional districts.

On the General Assembly side, state law allows even more seats to be created in the House and Senate. It remains to be seen whether Bridgeport's 144,229 population -- a 3.4 percent increase over 10 years ago when it lost a seat in the House -- will be enough to regain a House seat.

"This is a historic beginning for the Reapportionment Committee," said Senate President Pro Tempore Donald E. Williams, D-Brooklyn, the other co-chairman.

"I'm appreciative that we in Connecticut have done it and will continue to do it on a bipartisan basis," said Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, a member of the panel.