Topeka Senate Republicans failed Tuesday to recommend a congressional redistricting plan, giving Democrats hope of increasing support for their proposal, which would keep Lawrence in the 3rd Congressional District.
"I would hope we could pick up some Republican support for the plan," Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said.
The Democratic plan already is backed by Sen. Sandy Praeger, R-Lawrence, though Praeger is not on the committee that is considering redistricting proposals.
Senate Reapportionment Committee Chairman David Adkins, R-Leawood, said the panel would try again today to adopt a congressional plan for consideration by the Senate.
Adkins appeared exasperated as Republicans, who outnumber Democrats on the committee 8-3, cast votes for different plans. Four proposals before the committee failed to get a majority.
The Legislature is redrawing district boundaries to accommodate population changes recorded by the federal census.
Only the Democratic plan would keep Lawrence in the 3rd Congressional District, which is represented by the sole Democrat in the Kansas delegation, U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore. The remaining plans pushed by Republicans would place Lawrence in the 2nd Congressional District, which is represented by U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun.
Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City, said most voters in Lawrence would rather be represented by a moderate Republican or centrist Democrat, not a conservative Republican.
"They should not have to be represented, or misrepresented, by a philosophy that doesn't reflect them," Haley said.
The Democratic plan splits Johnson County, but Haley said the northern half of Johnson County has more in common with Lawrence than it does with the other half of Johnson County, which is more conservative.
But only the three Democrats on the committee voted for the proposal.
Then Republicans trotted out three other plans, but none could get a majority.
For example, one proposal would have split the nine counties in southeast Kansas between the four congressional districts.
"As far as southeast Kansas goes, this map is the worst one we've seen," said Sen. Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, as he voted against it.
That proposal died with only three Republicans voting for it.
Staff writer Scott Rothschild can be reached at (785) 354-4222.