Archive for Friday, June 8, 2012

Voters will see big changes from new redistricting plan

June 8, 2012


— Most voters in Douglas County will see a change in their political representation because of a redistricting ruling made by a three-judge panel.

“This is a complete redrawing of the political landscape,” Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said Friday.

The federal court placed all of Douglas County in the 2nd Congressional District. For 10 years, the county and city of Lawrence have been split between the 2nd and 3rd Districts.

On the legislative side, significant boundary changes will shift state Senate and House districts in the county, as well as across the rest of Kansas.

“This is probably the most significant redistricting to happen in this state for decades,” Shew said.

It happened after the Legislature wrestled and failed all year to come up with a plan to redraw political boundaries based on changes and shifts in population.

The impasse arose after a power struggle erupted between moderates and conservatives in the Kansas Republican Party. Republicans control the Legislature with large majorities, and conservative Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and the conservative Kansas Chamber of Commerce played active roles in the redistricting drama.

After the breakdown in the session, dozens of attorneys went from the Statehouse to the courthouse.

Three federal judges in Kansas City, Kan., heard the arguments, pored over the maps and late Thursday filed their order.

Lawrence, Manhattan at center of congressional fight

The major dispute on the congressional side was over where to put Manhattan. Manhattan city officials wanted to stay in the 2nd, arguing that U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, was better positioned to fight for funding in Congress for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, which is supposed to be built in Manhattan.

But the abutting 1st District, which covers all of western Kansas and most of central Kansas, needed population to attain a similar size to other districts. To keep Manhattan in the 2nd, plans surfaced to stretch the 1st into Kansas City, Kan., then east Topeka, and finally northeast Lawrence.

The three judges rejected those ideas, saying cities shouldn’t be split, and ordered Manhattan into the 1st.

Incumbent protection dissolves

When it came to state House and state Senate seats, incumbent protection, which was the focus of redistricting wars during the legislative session, went out the window before the court.

The judges’ maps produced nearly 50 districts that two or more incumbents lived in. Twenty-five of the newly drawn districts have no incumbent living in them. In the 40-member Senate, four districts have more than one incumbent and four have no incumbent.

In its order, the judges wrote, “The Court recognizes that because it has tried to restore compact contiguous districts where possible, it is pushing a re-set button; its maps look different from those now in place.

“Some changes may not be popular and some people – perhaps many – will disagree that the Court has struck the appropriate balance. To those in that category – our fellow Kansans – we reiterate that the Court did not tread unreservedly into this political thicket. On short notice, with elections pending on the immediate horizon, we have acted solely to remedy a legislative default.”

Douglas County changes

In Douglas County, state Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, will see a large portion of her district move north into Jefferson County, and the district represented by state Sen. Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, will take in more of western Douglas County than it had previously.

The district represented by state Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, will now include much of southeast Lawrence, which Francisco had represented.

On the House side, the core Lawrence districts, represented by Barbara Ballard and Paul Davis, both Democrats, move westward, and Tom Sloan, a Republican, picks up a large part of northern Lawrence. The 10th House District, which had included a part of Douglas County, now is wholly in Douglas County and two incumbents legislators live there: TerriLois Gregory, R-Baldwin City, and Anthony Brown, R-Eudora. Brown’s 38th District has been moved into Johnson County.

Davis said he thought the changes in the 10th district were probably the most significant of the Douglas County House maps.

Candidate filing deadline soon

Despite the huge changes statewide, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said the deadline for candidates to file for state or federal office will remain unchanged. They will have until noon Monday.

“We have an unprecedented situation with the way these maps were drawn,” Kobach said.

But Kobach said the Aug. 7 primary can still take place on schedule.

“Right now, we are doubtless seeing many incumbent legislators and many potential candidates across the state scrambling to make a decision by noon on Monday as to whether they will run and exactly what they will do,” Kobach said.

A lot of jockeying occurred just hours after the new maps were revealed with legislators announcing retirements, and others saying they would seek office in a different district or try to make the leap from the House to the Senate.

Kobach said any other plaintiff or intervener in the redistricting lawsuit could appeal the three-judge panel’s maps to the U.S. Supreme Court. But, he said, because the district size population deviations are small, the appeal may not be successful.

Kobach, a Republican, praised the judges for drawing the district lines promptly, but criticized the work product, saying “it is a pretty disruptive map.”

He said he couldn’t speculate on whether the maps benefit one party more, or conservative or moderates within the GOP. “We may not know until November,” after the general election, he said.

Nonpartisan redistricting

Shew said even though the maps have caused an uproar he appreciates what the judges did.

He said that, nationally, whenever redistricting is taken over by a nonpartisan commission or a judicial panel “tons of incumbents get thrown in together.”

Shew said, “Here you have an impartial panel who basically stated politics and incumbency is not part of our charge and that is what created the maps.”

Registered voters in Douglas County will be getting cards soon telling them what districts they are in, Shew said. “We knew there were going to be changes,” he said since the Legislature and Brownback were tasked this year with the once-a-decade redistricting process.

Asked for a response to the judicial decision, Brownback issued a short reply: “It’s now in the hands of the people.”


Robert Schehrer 5 years, 7 months ago

WOW. The 10th District race between TerriLois Gregory and Anthony Brown should be a good one. They are both very conservative. That is assuming they both will run for re-election.

Anthony Brown is my current legislature. I have called and e-mailed him serveral times concerning issues that were important to me. He never responded to any of my inquiries.

I believe that neither of them will represent me with the newly drawn map. Thank goodness.

average 5 years, 7 months ago

That's a lot of Lawrence into the 10th. Baldwin City went McCain over Obama, but by less that 100 votes. Even the rural of the new 10th is fairly Lawrence-oriented.

That said, I don't know if there are any possible Dems who want to jump in, by Monday living in that area. I'm sure there will be in 2014, though.

Carol Braden 5 years, 7 months ago

I have also email and called Rep. Anthony Brown many many times. We have invited him to countless events in his district to come and speak with his constituents in Eudora. He has never returned any calls, emails, or invitations. It seems he has no interest in representing his district. It seems he is only interested in representing himself and Gov. Brownback.

somebodynew 5 years, 7 months ago

...... saying "it is a pretty disruptive map."

Good. It is about time that things get shaken up and not by whatever party happens to be in charge !!!!

And, keep in mind - - You Guys had your chance. You couldn't agree within your own party, much less with the other, so no griping now. This is what all y'all get and finally the citizens might be the winners.

John Kyle 5 years, 7 months ago

I'm not 'sure' what you "are" trying to 'Say'.

JayhawkFan1985 5 years, 7 months ago

False hope is trying to say that he's swallowed the GOP party line. He believes that the Koch brothers will love him back...

Patricia Davis 5 years, 7 months ago

FHNC you are "delusional." "Makers" make their make from "taking" it from the "little" guys. I know you "know" and "think" it is "funny."

buffalo63 5 years, 7 months ago

I'm tired of the "games" the parties play to try to "win". I was taught to play to the best of your abilities and that the best efforts should win. Sportsmanship is also a great part of the game, but the "games" the parties are playing, ie "purging roles", trying to keep people from registering/voting, etc. should not be part of the U.S. elections. The way things are going, we will need to have other countries come to watch for a "fair election", like WE do in other countries.

Mike1949 5 years, 7 months ago

That is so true. Carlin has been our representative, we have worked together on many issues important to me. I hope she is still one of our representatives. She is a Democrat, she cares about the people unlike the poster above who was ignored. Every Republican I have contacted was either ignored or got a form letter.

Mike Caddell 5 years, 7 months ago

The "revolution in a corn field" continues with some new strange twists. Old Art "Mr. Voodoo Economist" Laffer that advised Dear Gov. Brownback and untold numbers of Reaganauts in the state legislature may have got this one right, for $75,000 of taxpayer's money, of course. He gave this "revolution" it's moniker, and the caucazoid Neocon troglodytes are stuck with it, forever.

Between the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) stooges passing cookie cutter laws, the church lobbyists and "pro-life" syndicates pushing anti-women laws and witch hunts, the Koch billionaires lavishing lard into most every conservative's campaign coffers, and a solid voting base of paranoid suicidal geriatric pensioners - is it any wonder this happened?

The "revolution in a corn field" is now apparent, let the stampede begin.

Dig that quote from SoS Kobach, the loyalty oaths he demanded from the GOP members a couple years ago are paying off now.

The "revolutionary" slogans:"limited government" and "economic freedom" and "free markets" really make a lot of sense now. Soon it will be time to run every Koch Libertard out of office. Hopefully some firebrand progressive populists will make it to register and run against these fools by Monday.

Listen in and take a "Wisconsin Break" today on RFK:

notorious_agenda 5 years, 7 months ago

Hello, Earth to KansasConscience, Kobach is not a part of those negotiations. He "praised the judges." He remarked on the disruptive nature of tossing incumbents into the same districts and some districts without any representative. There is nothing that reads or hints towards him having implied it was disruptive for the Republicans, therefore you must conclude that he meant actually disruptive. Just because he is Republican does not mean everything he says is referring to Republicans lol.

The point is that making the redistricting maps isn't part of Kobach's job, wake up. He is not a senator or legislator he is the Secretary of State. From wikipedia about S.O.S.: "The specific powers and duties of this office depend on the constitution and laws of the particular state, but they often include responsibility for overseeing elections within the state."

Brock Masters 5 years, 7 months ago

The failure is the legislatures and the legislatures alone. Sure Kobach and Brownback weighed in should have weighed in and so on, but the buck stops with the legislature.

I like the new maps and take exception to Kobach's remark that the judges didn't give any consideration to not pitting incumbent against incumbent. Really, draw the lines where the population resides without regard to party affiliation or whether it pits incumbent against incumbent.

pace 5 years, 7 months ago

Actually this was a real part of Kobach's job. He and the legislature failed. The courts are required by law to act. The Real baloney is Kobach having failed to do his job, does not move the filing date. He probably has a reason. I never have thought the man stupid. He chose to not do his job, then has no responsibility for the result. He does have the responsibility and call on rather to defer the deadline for filing. I think he knew what he wasn't doing,and also has reasons for not deferring the deadlines. I do not think well of the man, or his machinations.

notorious_agenda 5 years, 7 months ago

Where in the State Constitution does it say making redistricting maps is the responsibility of the Secretary of State? Its all there in black and white what his job is.

Patricia Davis 5 years, 7 months ago

Didn't Kobach want to be able to carry a gun in order to do his job? Pushing paper (whenever he is in office and not doing moonlighting for other states) must be much scarier than the constitution ever envisioned.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.