How well do delegations to the two national party conventions represent their constituents?
Will the Republican delegation that travels to the national convention in Minneapolis represent the full spectrum of Kansas Republicans? Will the Democratic group that goes to Denver do that for its state party members?
There are, of course, many ways to determine such representation, but one important way is by simple geography. And by that measure, a number of party members - including some in Lawrence - should question how well they are being represented.
The Kansas Republican Party completed its slate of convention delegates last weekend. Some of the delegates are elected to represent their congressional districts and some are selected "at large." Interestingly, although Douglas County is split between the 2nd and 3rd congressional districts, no one from Douglas County was selected to represent either district.
In fact, all of the delegates from the 3rd Congressional District live in Johnson County. All of Wyandotte County and about a third of Douglas County lie within that district but neither county had any GOP delegates. Six of nine delegates in the 2nd District are from Shawnee County; two are from Jefferson County and one from Linn County.
A similar imbalance exists in the 4th Congressional District, which includes 10 counties and part of one other. However, all nine delegates elected from that district live in Sedgwick County, Wichita's home. In the huge 1st District, it's a little easier to spread the wealth. In that district only two of the nine delegates are from the same county.
As one would expect, the Douglas County representation in the Democratic delegation is significantly stronger. A total of nine Lawrence residents will be among the group traveling to Denver. But the delegation also includes three Johnson County residents and two from Wyandotte County.
It's true that Douglas and Wyandotte are the most Democratic counties in the state, but don't the thousands of Republicans who live in those counties also deserve at least a little representation in the convention delegation? The 25,800 Democrats who live in Douglas County will be strongly represented at their national convention, but what about the 24,000 Douglas County Republicans? Is it right that in the three-county 3rd District and the 10-plus county 4th District, all of the Republican national delegates come from a single county?
In announcing the delegate roster, State Republican Party Chairman Kris Kobach said, "These Republicans represent a wide spectrum of not only the Republican Party, but the state of Kansas." Given the geographic inequities, is that really accurate?
It seems like a question that might be worth asking.