Archive for Thursday, May 17, 2012

Proposal puts part of Lawrence in 1st District

May 17, 2012, 2:00 p.m. Updated May 18, 2012, 12:19 a.m.


Gov. Brownback urges legislators to compromise on taxes, redistricting

Gov. Sam Brownback said it's time to wrap the legislative session up, and urged lawmakers to find some common ground on a tax bill and the redistricting question. He congratulated the Legislature on passing pension reform. Enlarge video

— Ten years ago, the Republican-dominated Legislature split Democratic-voting Lawrence between two congressional districts; putting the eastern part in the 3rd U.S. House district and the western part in the 2nd.

Now, Republicans are trying to carve up the city again, but in a different way. This time they want to put the north and east part of Lawrence into the vast 1st U.S. House district, which is one of the most conservative districts in the country and runs to the Kansas-Colorado border.

The new proposed congressional redistricting map was approved Thursday by Republicans on the House redistricting committee and may be voted on by the full House today.

Under the proposal, the 1st U.S. House District, which includes all of western Kansas and much of central Kansas, would snake over into northeast Kansas, running through Jefferson and Leavenworth counties and wrap around to come into Lawrence.

The Kansas University campus area would be secured into the 2nd district.

Under the proposal, the eastern portion of Lawrence, considered a high-performing Democratic voting area, would be represented by U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, who is considered one of the most conservative members of Congress.

The campus area would be represented by 2nd District U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka.

House Speaker Mike O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, said the proposed map made sense because the 1st and 3rd districts need to border each other so that the 1st, which is losing population, could take in population from the fast-growing 3rd, which includes Johnson County.

But House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, called the proposal “another ridiculous attempt at gerrymandering to protect the incumbent members of Congress.”

State Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, said Republicans were trying to dilute Democratic voting strength.

He noted that earlier in the legislative session, Republicans proposed maps that would place other Democratic areas in the 1st, such as east Topeka and Kansas City, Kan.

“You have to go after the Democrats every time?,” Ward asked. “We are way too concerned about the politicians and not concerned about the voters,” he said. He added, “Douglas County has already had their time in the barrel,” as far as being split between two districts. Most earlier redistricting plans had united Lawrence and put it in the 2nd.

O’Neal denied that he was targeting Democrats. The proposal was recommended by the House redistricting committee on a 9-7 vote with only Republicans supporting it.

State Rep. Scott Schwab, R-Olathe, said that since the redistricting proposal will be challenged in court, it was better to give the court as many options as possible.

The 1st needs to expand in area to capture more population, but an earlier attempt to place Manhattan in the 1st was scuttled by Republicans, some of whom said they wanted to keep a proposed federal biosecurity lab in Manhattan in Jenkins’ district to protect federal funding of the $650 million project.

Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, had said that a split between Huelskamp and U.S. House Speaker John Boehner would jeopardize funding for the project if it were in Huelskamp’s district. Huelskamp has said there is no split with Boehner that would threaten funding of the project.

Redistricting has become one of the most contentious issues this session as moderate and conservative factions of the Kansas Republican Party have been locked in a bitter struggle over state Senate and congressional districts.

Gov. Sam Brownback said Thursday it may take a court to sort out Senate redistricting.

Brownback said he’d like the Legislature to approve congressional and state House maps, and possibly leave the rest to the judicial system.

“I’d like to even see them pass the other maps and leave the Senate and State Board of Education, which is tied to the Senate map. If that’s the one you can’t get, then let’s send it to court rather than all of them,” Brownback said.


gudpoynt 1 year, 11 months ago

can somebody explain how keeping Manhattan out of the 2nd "protects" the proposed (as in, not yet built) biosecurity lab, for which funding has already been cut?

Does the not-yet-built facility stand a better chance of having its funding reinstated if Jenkins is representing it over Huelskamp?

"We MUST save the funding that isn't there anymore, for the facility was never built!"


BigAl 1 year, 11 months ago

Do you ever notice how the republicans are against big government unless it is something totally in their favor?

If the tables were turned on this the republicans would be screaming out about The Constitution, the Bill of Rights, Socialism and how big government was killing us.

This is a despicable bunch in Topeka. They obviously put party over country.


1arrowheaddrive 1 year, 11 months ago

Moving Manhattan to the first is the most logical map; however, Tim Huelskamp (1st District Rep) is NOT a strong supporter of the biodefense facility in Manhattan. So, the R's have to find away to keep Jenkins representing Manhattan to secure the project. Thus, Lawrence "must" be split to keep Manhattan in the 2nd with Jenkins.


JackMcKee 1 year, 11 months ago

Why would a farmer in Lorraine want to be in the same district as an artist in East Lawrence? Talk about people with absolutely nothing in common. This plan has to be a joke.


Ockhams_Razor 1 year, 11 months ago

I'll have a glass of whatever Silly Sauce they are consuming in the Capitol. That has to be some-powerful Fire Water.


jayhawklawrence 1 year, 11 months ago

If our founding fathers had the character of a Mike O'Neal there would be no United States of America.

Where is this country headed when we elect such people as leaders and allow them to make the laws we live by? Surely, we are better than this.

They say that over 90% of the people that win elections are the ones with the most money to spend. If that is true, what good is our freedom when our votes are so easily bought and sold.

I would like to see a day when the right man or woman can get elected without having to worry about buying their way into office because right now in this country, we are not well represented.


usnsnp 1 year, 11 months ago

Fun to watch grown men and women act like children. They are making a laughting stock of Kansas, what buisness would move to Kansas.


madameX 1 year, 11 months ago

Does this mean that our main industry will switch from the manufacture of electronics to luxury goods? Is that what everyone is up in arms about?

No, but seriously, this is freakin' stupid.


Gotland 1 year, 11 months ago

It hard to tell if this is a real problem. East Lawrence is always complaining about something. They cry wolf to often.


hujiko 1 year, 11 months ago

This is gerrymandering defined.


oldexbeat 1 year, 11 months ago

this will let herr Dr. Tim Huelskamp move to a decent city and get a good meal now and then -- whilest he waits for Senator Pat Roberts to retire and give him his Senate seat. Isn't it fun -- Huelskamp has spent more time in Washington than in sw Kansas. Always the case. Wonder where Roberts lives ? (Hint, his duplex in Dodge City is rented to someone else. Do they share bedrooms ? Always a question....) And Huelskamp will say anything to be 'more' conservative.


question4u 1 year, 11 months ago

Mike O'Neal became a caricature long ago, so there is nothing surprising in his behavior. His ethics are consistently twisted. Over and over he has proved that justice means nothing to him. You might as well expect a feedlot to smell sweet as expect O'Neal to do the right thing. His mind just isn't geared that way.

What IS inexplicable is the fact that he hasn't been voted out by his constituents. Knowing his behavior in the House, one wonders what he has done in his district to manipulate things in his favor. Whom has he silenced and how? What deals has he made? What are the odds that he is squeaky clean in his district and so obviously oily in the House?


theoriginalj3 1 year, 11 months ago

as someone who just moved here from texas, this is jacked up.

i've seen abuse at the redistricting level in texas, but this goes far beyond that. this borders on obscene abuse.


none2 1 year, 11 months ago

I really am shocked by how few comments there are on this story.

Whatever the boundaries end up being, we are stuck with them for TEN years. Are Douglas County residents that apethetic about this proposal?


Ken Lassman 1 year, 11 months ago

I knew it! I knew that at the last possible second, they'd push hard to put Lawrence or at least part of it into the Big First!

This legislature is like a big Monty Python skit gone out of control. It is gonzo politics like the nation has seldom seen. When is Hugo Chavez going to send a delegation to learn from our leadership?


pace 1 year, 11 months ago

O’Neal seems to say anything, he has no shame.


average 1 year, 11 months ago

Interesting, looking at this proposal, it looks like they'd give Fort Leavenworth to the 1st as well. I thought that was one of Jenkins stipulations... that she got both Forts, both research Universities and NBAF (largely because Huelskamp couldn't be trusted with anything but cattle).


JayhawkFan1985 1 year, 11 months ago

I think the time has come for a constitutional amendment that will require a non partisan group, perhaps a University or a Commission, to draw district maps based on predefined criteria. I would suggest the following for US Congressional Districts.

  1. Each Congressional District created be as compact as is possible.
  2. Each Congressional District created include entire counties to the maximum extent possible.
  3. No incorporated cities to be split unless the city's population exceeds that for a Congressional District.
  4. Each Congressional District be comprised of a "community of interest."

This would result in a 2.5 county "Kansas City Metro District", a 7.5 county "Wichita Metro District", a 20.5 county NE Kansas District, and a very large "rural KS District."

I suspect it is very likely that Kansas will have only 3 Congressional Districts in the next 10 or 20 years. This will be much more simple when we look like a Wyoming or North Dakota with only 1 District...


none2 1 year, 11 months ago

I guess we are forced to live with this unless people FLOOD the house with phone calls, emails, and US Postal letters showing their disgust for their gerrymandering.

O'Neals contact info is on this page:


Shelley Bock 1 year, 11 months ago

I would think that under the concept of unity of communities, the grassland around Liberal and the overgrown grass of a yard on E. 13th Street have nothing in common. There are other areas, other communities that have more in common with vast stretches of the present 1st, than does East Lawrence. I would think that argument alone would satisfy members of a Federal judicial panel that East Lawrence needs to be with the remainder of the Lawrence community, somewhere other than in the 1st.

Is Lynn Jenkins that scared of Douglas County? Does she believe her "sterling" record in Congress won't make her, as the incumbent, a lock on Congressional seat?

Maybe, just maybe, Kobach's move towards the Federal Court is preferred the way to go. (although my hands were shaking as I typed something good about Kobach.) I don't think the judges would only approve or disapprove, but they could establish the boundaries themselves. There could be surprises, but if all agree that is the way to go, then so be it.


tecuani 1 year, 11 months ago

You know what would fix this? A law forbidding the legislature from dividing counties when considering districts for federal representation.

Is there a law that says districts have to be contiguous?


Mike Wasikowski 1 year, 11 months ago

This has to be one of the dumbest House redistricting proposals I've seen yet. It might even be dumber than the proposal that would have put Wyandotte County into the 1st District.


tomatogrower 1 year, 11 months ago

And how can Republicans call themselves fiscally responsible? They are spending time on ridiculous maps that will be taken to court. They aren't running the state, except into the ground, not unlike their hero CEO's run companies into the ground. Do you know how much this stupid overtime is costing the state? Almost $35,000 per day. O'Neil might actually have to go do some real work, instead of doing stupid things in Topeka. People in his district, you need to fire this joker.


yourworstnightmare 1 year, 11 months ago

Has a specific portion of a small city ever been targeted in such a manner before?

O'neille and the GOP relish in poking at east Lawrence, in their minds a pit of liberalism, gay sex, and atheism.

While I am sure it is loads of fun for conservatives, it is disgraceful that a house leader would trivialize his duties by making them a mean spirited joke.


tomatogrower 1 year, 11 months ago

"O'Neal denied that he was targeting Democrats." O'Neal is a rude, gutless liar. At least have the decency and the guts to tell the truth. If they weren't gerrymandering they would just move the borders east and Manhattan would be with western Kansas. Aren't the people in his district sick of his lies and nasty "humor"? Do they like people who lie? What a crock!

Instead of playing with borders, maybe the Republican candidates in these districts should try and represent people, and not lie. Maybe they would win even in Lawrence. Ever think about running on your integrity and willingness to work with people? Or is that just too moral for your type of "christianity". You know the muscular Jesus, who didn't believe in love thy neighbor and believed in judging people. Not the wimpy Jesus in the bible.


tolawdjk 1 year, 11 months ago

Never knew the House was so full on non-ecluidian mathmaticians and fractilists. Honestly, if you factor in the curviture of space-time and use string theory, it all makes perfect sense.

Of course that would all require Mike O'Neal to be a closet intellectual.

And we can't have that.


average 1 year, 11 months ago

"House Speaker Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, said the proposed map made sense because at some point the 1st and 3rd districts would have to be touching so that the 1st, which is losing population, could take in population from the fast-growing 3rd, which includes Johnson County."

This is the same guy who said "well of course we have to split a city", when the Senate had already passed a redistricting proposal that didn't split any cities. King of the bald-faced non-sequitor.


James Nelson 1 year, 11 months ago

You know, its real hard to have to believe that leaders of the republican party in Kansas have felt compelled for a long time now to behave so dishonestly. These maps they keep submitting completely ignore the guidelines. How in the world do they continue getting re-elected showing such little respect for the electorate? Does the average republican voter in Kansas really appreciate dishonesty and dirty tricks?


Hooligan_016 1 year, 11 months ago

Good grief, it is just never going to end.


Mark Kostner 1 year, 11 months ago

Yeah, Lawrence has a lot in common with the cactus, sage, yucca, cholla, and tamarisk studded canyons and mesas of Southwest Kansas.


KansasLiberal 1 year, 11 months ago

Why are right-wing republicans so insecure about letting the people of Kansas vote for the representatives of their choice? Why? Because they know that if the game was fair they'd never win.


gccs14r 1 year, 11 months ago

Now they're just being stupid. Not that they weren't being stupid before, but this is ridiculous.


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