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Archive for Tuesday, April 2, 2002

Graves doesn’t support city split

But political process demands compromise, governor says

April 2, 2002

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— Gov. Bill Graves would like Lawrence kept together in any congressional redistricting plan, but he is not going to demand that it happen.

"I continue to believe there ought to be a way to get a map done where Douglas County is whole," Graves said of attempts by his fellow Republicans to divide Lawrence between two congressional districts.

But he added that keeping Lawrence whole would not be a requirement for him to sign a congressional plan into law. "We all give a little to get a little in this process, so I'll have to see where the final map is on congressional redistricting," he said.

With two weeks left in the regular legislative session, state lawmakers, who are in charge of redrawing congressional boundaries to accommodate population changes, remain at odds over congressional and state Senate redistricting.

Currently, almost all of Lawrence and most of Douglas County are in the 3rd District, which also includes the Kansas City-metropolitan counties of Johnson and Wyandotte.

The district is represented by Dennis Moore, the only Democrat from Kansas in Congress.

Because of population growth in the 3rd District and decreases in population in other congressional districts in Kansas, the boundaries of the 3rd District must be re-drawn to place some residents in the neighboring 2nd District.

Lawrence officials and Democrats have argued that Lawrence should stay in the 3rd District because of the city's economic and Kansas University ties to the Kansas City area. They have proposed maps that would split Johnson County instead.

Republicans, however, say that Johnson and Wyandotte counties are the heart of the 3rd District, so Lawrence must be divided.

A plan endorsed by the House would split Lawrence roughly along Iowa Street, with eastern Lawrence staying in the 3rd District and western Lawrence going into the 2nd District, which is represented by Jim Ryun, one of the most conservative Republicans in Congress.

A plan that was passed by a Senate committee would place Lawrence in the 2nd District, a move opposed by some Republican leaders because they said it will hurt Ryun's re-election efforts.

Graves said he has received numerous calls from Kansas' congressmen and other "interested members in Washington" offering advice on how to re-draw the political boundaries.

"I wouldn't say their opinions are influencing to any great extent what is transpiring. I think they are starting to discover that Kansas politics has a certain flavor all its own, and that you can't micromanage from Washington," he said.

Lawmakers say they are not sure when the final bell will ring for congressional redistricting, although they agree that the full Senate will not debate a plan until after it hashes out a redistricting plan for the state Senate. The fight over new Senate boundaries has evolved into a stalemate between Graves, a moderate Republican, and a one-vote majority coalition of conservative Republicans and Democrats.

The conservative-Democrat coalition has stuck together despite one veto by Graves and the threat of another, so resolution of a Senate plan may take a while.

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