Archive for Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lawrence in 1st Congressional District? Officials say no way

October 6, 2011


A proposed change in the state's Congressional districts would put Lawrence in the vast 1st District, which spans the entire state.

A proposed change in the state's Congressional districts would put Lawrence in the vast 1st District, which spans the entire state.

— U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, whose 1st Congressional District includes Lawrence ... wha??

In the redistricting process, just about any proposal can get a look-see, even one that draws a congressional district from Lawrence to Liberal, while also lassoing Kansas City, Kan.

Legislators pooh-poohed that map, which was provided by a source and described as a plan that was being circulated in Washington, D.C.

Huelskamp said he hadn’t seen such a map.

“I haven’t seen one like that,” he said. “Wholesale changes would make little sense. Kansans would not put up with gerrymandering,” he said.

Gerrymandering is the term used to describe the process of drawing district boundaries to benefit a certain party or candidate.

The Kansas Legislature has the once-a-decade task of redrawing boundaries for congressional, legislative and State Board of Education districts to equalize the population within the districts.

Since 2000, population shifts have put the districts out of whack.

The congressional districts should have about 713,280 people to ensure equal representation.

But the census showed the growing 3rd Congressional District, which includes the Kansas City metro area and east Lawrence, has about 55,000 more than it should, and the vast 1st District is about 58,000 people short and must be expanded further to make up the difference.

The House-Senate Redistricting Committee has been holding town hall meetings this summer and fall to get public input. State legislators will be charged with approving plans during the legislative session that starts in January.

In redistricting, where political fates can be decided, nearly anything goes, said Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka, who is the longest-serving legislator in the Legislature.

“At any point in this process, you could expect the most diabolical of schemes, the most partisan, political of schemes,” Hensley said. In 2002, the Kansas Senate approved a redistricting plan that split southeast Kansas into three districts. That proposal eventually failed.

But the Legislature did pass a plan, despite the protests of many Lawrence officials, that set up the current boundary: Lawrence split between the 2nd and 3rd Districts. Prior to that, Lawrence had been wholly in the 3rd.

The 1st District, commonly called the “Big First,” stretches over 69 counties, includes all of western Kansas and then crosses the middle of the state to take in Hutchinson, Emporia and over the northern part of the state into Marshall and part of Nemaha counties.

During the town hall meetings, Hensley has provided a PowerPoint presentation that includes what he says is a plan advocated by Republicans to push the 1st into Wyandotte County as a way to satisfy population needs and dilute the effect of Democratic voting in that county.

A map that shows Douglas, Wyandotte and Leavenworth counties in the 1st District is just as ridiculous, he said. The map would also reconfigure the 2nd District, which is currently represented by U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, and includes west Lawrence. Under that map, the 2nd would shed west Lawrence into the 1st, keep Topeka and then head west to the Kansas-Colorado border, taking in the top half of western Kansas. When shown the map, Hensley said it was “ugly.”

“I would hope to think that common sense would prevail and that this map would not pass, but sometimes common sense takes a back seat and it becomes a raw political struggle that brings out the worst partisan intentions from people,” he said.


njthomas 6 years, 6 months ago

Ha ha. Kansans wouldn't put up with gerrymandering, unless it adversely affects Lawrence, of course.

Daniel Dicks 6 years, 6 months ago

Yeah, I had to LOL when I read that too.

Dan Thalmann 6 years, 6 months ago

Oh gadzooks. I love the thought of negating the voting power of Lawrence liberals, but I sure as hell don't want to share my district with them. So no, they better not be included in my district.

overthemoon 6 years, 6 months ago

So you think that people with whom you disagree have no right to representation? What a strange way to run a democracy.

Melinda Black 6 years, 6 months ago

Dividing Lawrence into two districts is not in the best interests of the town. It is unfortunate that people have trouble putting aside their political affiliations long enough to see this.

Orwell 6 years, 6 months ago

The majority party rarely draws congressional districts unsatisfactory to its own incumbent representatives. If Lawrence winds up in the First it will be with the tacit approval of Tim Huelskamp, notwithstanding his public concerns about gerrymandering.

average 6 years, 6 months ago

Normally, that'd be true. But, you should understand that Huelskamp, as fire-breathing a conservative as any, isn't exactly that popular in Topeka. TPTB in the Kansas GOP basically stripped him of any power when he was in Topeka because he was impossible to get along with or get anything done with. There are quite a few in the party who wouldn't mind seeing him get primaried out by a agribiz corporate-bootlicker (a la Roberts or Moran) who doesn't make as many national headlines for dumb statements.

Dan Thalmann 6 years, 6 months ago

Never mind. LJW just posted the map, which splits the first and second in western Kansas. I'd be in the second, so my comments on the first don't really relate. Either way, the posted map is idiotic in many ways.

Jan Rolls 6 years, 6 months ago

Get a funny map - straight to federal court.

JayhawkFan1985 6 years, 6 months ago

There should be rational rules set for redistricting. I propose the following:

1) Entire counties should be kept together to the maximum extent possible. 2) Congressional districts should be compact/square to the maximum extent possible.
3) Communities that share strong ties should be in the same district to the maximum extent possible. For example, Johnson, Wyandotte, Leavenworth and Miami Counties are part of the Kansas City Metro area. If this proves too big based on population (I didn't check the census counts), put Leavenworth County with Douglas, Shawnee, Pottawatomie, Riley and Geary and a few of the surrounding rural counties. It would be interesting to have Fort Riley, Fort Leavenworth, KU, K-State and the state capitol all in one district. Another district should be built around Wichita. I hear they are the biggest city in the state. There are a lot of SE Kansas counties that are closely allied with aircraft aviation so I would expand the Wichita district first to the east. The final district should be comprised of the most rural counties that are primarily agricultural communities.

Because this makes sense to me, I doubt this is what will happen. I expect that Lawrence will actually be carved into all 4 districts with 15th Street/Bob Billings and 23rd Street/Clinton Parkway being the dividing lines.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 6 months ago

All this could be avoided if we had one additional rational rule. Democrats and Republicans behaved well and acted in the best interests of the people. All of them.

JayhawkFan1985 6 years, 6 months ago

I've now looked at the 2010 Census population counts for each county. Here's my final proposal based on Congressional Districts with target populations of 713,280 (2,853,118 total KS pop / 4 districts):

KC Metro District to include Johnson, Wyandotte Counties. It would also include about 1/3 of Miami County's population. In other words, 11,596 of Miami Counties 32,787 population needs to be in this district. This results in the most compact district in the state.

Wichita Metro District to include Sedgwick, Butler, Harvey, Reno, McPherson, Kingman, Chase and Marion Counties at 715,928 population.

NE Kansas District to include Marshall, Nemaha, Brown, Doniphan, Atchison, Leavenworth, Jefferson, Jackson, Pottawatomie, Riley, Clay, Saline, Dickinson, Geary, Waubaunsee, Shawnee, Douglas, Franklin, Osage and Lyon Counties at 712,256 population.

That leaves the remaining 74 counties in the final Rural Kansas District with a population of 711,655. As I said, about 2/3 of Miami County's population needs to move to this district.

This only took me about an hour to figure out and get very close to the district target populations with only one split county and three very compact districts.

Like I said, if they can find a way to split Lawrence into 4 districts, I will bet they go with that.

JayhawkFan1985 6 years, 6 months ago

One slight modification. Chase County should not be in the Wichita Metro District. Rather, it should be split between the NE Kansas District and the Rural Kansas District. By taking Chase County out, Wichita Metro would have 713,138. I'm sure Miami and Chase Counties and their state legislators could figure out which precincts could go to the other two districts. I'm done.

average 6 years, 6 months ago

At the federal seat level, you certainly try to dilute Lawrence as much as possible. At the state house level, you'd start from the opposite premise. You're going to have at least one Dem seat around here. Probably two. There will always be a few in Topeka. So, you try to make those seats as blue as humanly possible. Same reason Republicans are fairly happy with some of the 'drawn to be black' seats in the south. Keeps their votes from influencing too many districts.

William Weissbeck 6 years, 6 months ago

Does anyone still believe that the GOP isn't only about acquiring and maintaining power?

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