Archive for Saturday, March 17, 2012

Legislators heading toward redistricting collision

March 17, 2012


— The Kansas Legislature is headed toward a collision over congressional redistricting.

House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, is pushing a plan that would redraw the district boundaries in a way that would put most of Kansas City, Kan., in Wyandotte County in the 1st U.S. House District.

Democrats are indignant over the idea of joining Democratic-voting, urban Kansas City with a district dominated by western Kansas and currently represented by one of the most conservative Republicans in Congress, U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Fowler.

“It’s political gerrymandering at its worst” and will dilute Democratic votes, said Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka.

Hensley gave reporters a list of published quotes from O’Neal, in which O’Neal repeatedly over several months dismissed Hensley’s contention that Republicans had a plan to put Kansas City into the 1st.

House Democratic Leader Paul Davis of Lawrence said O’Neal’s map, which was approved by the House Redistricting Committee and will be considered by the full House this week, is “just making wholesale changes to create districts where four incumbents … won’t ever have to worry about having a tough race.” All of Kansas’ incumbent congressional representatives are Republican.

But O’Neal said his map accomplished several goals. It keeps in the 2nd District Manhattan, and the site of the proposed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, a $650 million federal laboratory.

In addition, the state’s major research universities, Kansas University and Kansas State University in Manhattan, would be in the 2nd, he noted.

“There’s just no clean, pretty way of drawing these,” O’Neal said of the redistricting process. “If there is a better way, it has not emerged yet in either the House or Senate. Changing congressional boundary lines does not change or alter those historic connections.”

Manhattan city officials say they prefer O’Neal’s map over a bipartisan plan approved in the Senate that would place Manhattan in the 1st.

The problem that must be solved is making the districts as equal in population as possible. The 1st has lost population over the past 10 years and needs to expand to pick up approximately 58,000 people. The rapidly growing 3rd District must shed a similar number of people.

Douglas County is currently divided between two districts, with the eastern portion in the 3rd and western portion in the 2nd.

Under O’Neal’s plan, Douglas County would be wholly in the 3rd, along with Johnson and Miami counties and the portion of Wyandotte County that includes the KU Medical Center.

In the Senate-approved plan, Douglas County would be wholly in the 2nd. But state Republican Party officials have denounced this plan.

A new proposal is emerging among Senate leaders that would keep Manhattan in the 2nd and draw a 3rd that included Johnson, Wyandotte, and the southeast corner of Leavenworth County.

“There is pretty solid support for that,” said Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton.


Bob Forer 6 years, 1 month ago

O'Neal is the proverbial republican politician--a liar and a cheat.

Shelley Bock 6 years, 1 month ago

With the proposal for which "...there is pretty solid support..." in the Senate, where does Douglas County go?

Is it because Manhattan is more conservative than Lawrence which keeps them in the 2nd, but Lawrence was split up between two districts in the past redistricting effort? Seems as though the O'Neil plan should be called the "Save Lynn" plan. Moving Douglas County would automatically give her a 10-15,000 vote disadvantage.

I believe that from a demographic view, moving Manhattan into the 1st would make more sense than putting Wyandotte County primarily into the 1st. There is no unification of interest in O'Neal's plan; I would question if it would survive court scrutiny.

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 1 month ago

Because you know what the Bio Agro Defense facility is serving?

The interests of NE Kansas, I guess. Must not be the interests of Western Kansas.

It is shocking the blatant contempt that Manhattan and Kansas State are demonstrating to the First District. They should start referring to themselves as Snob Sheepbarn.

average 6 years, 1 month ago

Yeah. If anyone from Lawrence or the KC metro were that vocally disdainful of west-of-81 (quote-unquote 'real') Kansas, you know we'd get called on it.

JayhawkFan1985 6 years, 1 month ago

We need a KC metro district, a Wichita metro district, a NE KS district and a rural KS district. The NE KS district should include everything north of I35 from wellsville to Ottawa and everything north of a line from Ottawa to Junction City. The rural KS district would include everything else.

Since Johnson county continues to grow, by 2020 or 2030 there will need to be a Johnson county only district assuming KS doesn't lose yet another congressional district. In the meantime, the KC metro district should include all of Johnson and all of Wyandotte counties. This district would also need to pick up a fraction of either Miami or Leavenworth county to achieve the required population.

I like the idea of having KU, KSU, ESU, and Washburn U. All in the same district. This is the most urban of the non KC and non Wichita portions of the state. Plus then it would include the state capital. The rural portions of the state hate Topeka and hate education anyway...

Jan Rolls 6 years, 1 month ago

He is just trying to protect jenkins. This will be the easiest court case won. You have to be stupid like he is to put wyandotte in with western kansas. A blind man could see what he is doing. In addition to stupid there are obvious racial tones involved.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 1 month ago

We should increase the size of the House of Reps. Tripling it in size would put it back to the same population per district that existed when the current size of 435 reps was set a century ago.

But rather than just having more districts, keep it at 4 districts, but each district would elect 3 representatives. Voting would be a weighted "instant runoff" style, and the top 3 vote getters under that system would be elected. This would ensure that minor parties/minorities would get at electing someone in any district where they have a substantial portion of the population. Such a system would make gerrymandering a somewhat moot exercise, since that primarily only pertains in winner-take-all systems.

I'd guess that such a system would still see a majority of reps from Kansas come from the Republican Party, but just barely. The rest would be some combination of Democrats, Libertarians, Greens, Tea Partiers (although they are a wholly owned subsidiary of the Kochs/Fox, and not really a party.)

We should likely just do away with the Senate, or make major changes to that would make it even remotely democratic-- but I'll leave that for another discussion.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 1 month ago

"But rather than just having more districts, keep it at 4 districts, "

In Kansas, that is.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 1 month ago

Typing and editing too fast.

That should read "This would ensure that minor parties/minorities would get A CHANCE at electing someone..."

globehead 6 years, 1 month ago

Don't worry. Kris Kobach ran on a platform of stopping voting fraud. Of course, he was primarily interested in the estimated 80 or so cases over the past ten years of voter I.D. fraud. I'm sure he never envisioned a fraud on a scale as massive as this redistricting plan.

William Weissbeck 6 years, 1 month ago

It drives the GOP nuts that so many Dems reside in Topeka, Lawrence and the KC area. I'm surprised that Brownback hasn't proposed a law that no two registered Democrats can live within a mile of each other. It's not the Dems fault that so many GOPs have moved off the farms or died.

JayhawkFan1985 6 years, 1 month ago

Good point. All the economic activity in the state resides in about 10 counties. The other 95 counties are spounging off us. They should get their acts together and produce something or anything besides beef and wheat 'cause that don't pay the rent...

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