Congressional redistricting map ( .PDF )
Topeka The Kansas Chamber of Commerce and state Republican Party on Wednesday blasted Republicans who supported a bipartisan congressional redistricting map that consolidated Lawrence into the 2nd U.S. House District.
Kansas Republican Party Chairwoman Amanda Adkins said the proposal “appears to be a coldly calculated attempt to create a Democrat 2nd Congressional District to the detriment of the dean of our congressional delegation.”
The 2nd District is represented by U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka. Currently, Lawrence, which leans Democratic, is split between the 2nd and 3rd Districts.
Ivan Crossland, chairman of the Kansas Chamber Political Action Committee, said, “This map hurts Republicans and helps President Obama’s agenda. Just the latest example of why we need a new state Senate.” The chamber is working to defeat moderate Republicans in the Senate during the Republican Party primary in August.
But Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka said the comments by Adkins and the Kansas Chamber were “clearly out of bounds, off the charts in terms of reaction.”
Currently, he said, the breakdown of registered voters in the 2nd District is 42 percent Republican, 29 percent Democratic and 29 percent unaffiliated. Under the proposed map approved by the committee, the breakdown is 40 percent Republican, 30 percent Democratic and 30 percent unaffiliated.
He said a change of 2 percent in the share of Republican voters isn’t that large. And, he said, the redistricting process isn’t about protecting incumbents but drawing the best districts for Kansans.
Kansas legislators are redrawing congressional district boundaries to accommodate population shifts over the past 10 years.
According to Democratic and Republican legislators, Jenkins has been pushing for a congressional redistricting plan that would place all of Lawrence in the 3rd District, which is represented by U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Overland Park. That plan also would extend the vast 1st District all the way to Kansas City, Kan., which is currently in the 3rd.
Several legislators, both Republican and Democratic, have said placing urban Kansas City, Kan., with the mostly rural 1st would be inappropriate.
While Adkins noted Democratic support of the plan that was approved in the Senate committee, it was authored by a Republican and supported by several Republicans on the panel.
The measure will now go to the full Senate for consideration.
“It’s as nonpolitical as we can make it,” Committee Chairman Tim Owens, R-Overland Park, said of the committee proposal.
Ten years ago, Lawrence was split between two districts with west Lawrence in the 2nd and east Lawrence in the 3rd.
The ideal congressional district should have 713,280 people. But U.S. Census figures shows the 1st is about 58,000 people short, while the growing 3rd, which includes the Kansas City metro area, has about 55,000 more than it should.
The map approved by the Senate committee would take Manhattan, which is currently in the 2nd, and place it in the 1st to add population.
Manhattan officials oppose this move, saying the city is linked with military bases and Kansas University in the 2nd. After the committee’s vote, Dick Carter, representing the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce, said: “It’s important to realize we are very early in the process.”
Owens said Manhattan is a growing area, and the 1st needs population.
Meanwhile, the 3rd would lose eastern Lawrence. The 3rd would include Johnson and Wyandotte counties and southeastern Leavenworth County.
Earlier in the committee meeting, Sen. Mike Peterson, R-Wichita, proposed a map that would have split Topeka, which is in the 2nd, between the 1st and 2nd districts. But that proposal failed.