Missouri's Redistricting News
(March 30, 2001 - May 4, 2001)

 

 Associated Press: "Judge Upholds Redistricting Choices." May 4, 2001      
 Associated Press: "House Committee Endorses Redistricting Map." May 4, 2001      
 Associated Press: "Redistricting Panel Offers Compromise, Moves Forward." May 2, 2001
 Associated Press: "Panel Raises Concerns About Gephardt-Clay Redistricting Plan." April 25, 2001       
 St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Gephardt-Clay Redistricting Power Struggle Goes Public." April 22, 2001       
 Associated Press: "State Representative Offers Up Own Map for Congressional Redistricting." April 19, 2001         
 Kansas City Star: "Parties Ponder Redistricting; Gephardt Base Could be One Key Issue." April 3, 2001       
 Associated Press: "Political battle already shaping up over redistricting." April 2, 2001       
 
Associated Press: "Holden faces GOP charges on redistricting panels." March 30, 2001       

More recent redistricting news from Missouri 

Associated Press
Judge Upholds Redistricting Choices
By Paul Sloca
May 4, 2001       

Rejecting a Republican challenge, a judge has upheld the legality of Gov. Bob Holden's replacement appointments to two legislative redistricting committees. The state Senate, meanwhile, confirmed the appointments, meaning that Allison London Smith of West Plains can begin serving on the Senate redistricting committee and Norman B. Harty of Dexter can begin serving on the House commission. The two panels are using 2000 census figures to redraw the boundaries of state legislative districts. Holden appointed Smith and Harty after Republican Rep. Mark Richardson of Poplar Bluff declined his appointment to both panels because of questions about whether he could serve both in the Legislature and on the redistricting committees.

The state Republican Party had challenged the appointments in court, seeking to have a new list of GOP nominees submitted to Holden. Cole County Circuit Judge Thomas Brown III ruled Thursday there was no basis for the Republican argument. The Missouri Constitution gives the governor general authority to fill vacancies. Because the constitution is silent on filling redistricting panel vacancies, the governor's general appointment power prevails, Brown said. Holden said he was pleased with the court's decision. "We're happy that the judge has indicated that the process should move forward and the redistricting commissioners selected by the governor according to state law can begin the work they're supposed to be doing," Holden spokesman Jerry Nachtigal said.

The commissions are scheduled to meet May 21-23. The commissioners met late last month despite the pending court action. Marc Ellinger, an attorney representing the Republican Party, said he was reviewing Brown's decision. "I think we're content with the judge's decision at this point in giving us an answer," Ellinger said. "We'll review it to decide whether we'll take it up it up to another court or not." If appealed, the decision could go straight to state Supreme Court.



Associated Press
House Committee Endorses Redistricting Map
By Paul Sloca
May 4, 2001       

A House panel has endorsed a congressional redistricting plan that appears to favor Democrats while a Senate panel balked at a proposal that leans more Republican. The House Special Committee on Redistricting voted 13-5 Thursday in favor of a plan that extends northeast Missouri's 9th Congressional District, held by Republican Kenny Hulshof, south through Washington and St. Francois counties, traditionally conservative Democratic territory. The plan also adds a slice of Boone County to west-central Missouri's 4th District, held by Democrat Ike Skelton, while the rest of Boone County would remain in Hulshof's district. In the St. Louis area, the House map would allow Minority Leader Richard Gephardt to gain traditionally Democratic black voters in the 3rd District while keeping the black population above 50 percent in the neighboring 1st District, represented by Democrat William "Lacy" Clay. "I hope you would vote on this map and send it to the floor," sponsoring Rep. Bill Ransdall, D-Waynesville, told the Democratic-controlled committee. "This map is not a politically gerrymandered map."

The Legislature has until February 2002, when candidates begin filing for office, to revise the boundaries of the state's nine U.S. House districts to reflect population data from the latest census. But lawmakers hope to complete the job before their session ends May 18. Otherwise, they could do the work in a special session later this year or try to do it early in the 2002 session. If they fail to agree, a federal court would complete the job. Also, two lawsuits have been filed, including one Thursday, asking federal courts to set a reasonable deadline for the Legislature to draw the maps. Filed in state and federal courts, the lawsuits ask courts to draw new districts if lawmakers fail to meet the deadline. Ransdall's plan would place all of burgeoning St. Charles County into the 2nd district, represented by Republican Todd Akin. That county is currently split between the 9th and 2nd. Ransdall also proposed expanding Clay's district farther west and Gephardt's district north, farther into the city of St. Louis. Some committee Republicans said the Ransdall map was designed to hurt Hulshof by adding counties so far south. "This puts the screws to Kenny Hulshof," said Rep. John Griesheimer, R-Washington. "He's giving up good territory. This is a heavy, heavy Democratic area."

Rep. Charles Portwood, R-Ballwin, said he was concerned about having Clay pick up the wealthy and traditionally white communities formerly in Akin's district. "I don't think the cities of Ladue and Creve Coeur fit in the First District," Portwood said. Also Thursday, the Senate Select Committee on Redistricting released its first full statewide map after spending much of its previous meetings on the St. Louis area. Under the Senate plan, Hulshof would pick up a majority of Cole County now held by Skelton, and Douglas County would be split among three members of Congress. "I'd hate to live there," said Sen. Steve Stoll, D-Festus, referring to Douglas County, which has a population of 13,000. "I don't like that too much. We need some time to look at this."

Skelton's 4th District would pick up four new counties - Cedar, Dade, Polk and Barton - to the north, according to the Senate plan. Those counties currently are in the 7th District held by Republican Roy Blunt. Since it was the first time the committee had seen a statewide map, lawmakers opted to wait until Monday to vote on the Senate plan, despite concerns expressed by the panel's chairman. "If we don't get going on something, we're going to be in deep trouble," said Sen. David Klindt, R-Bethany. "I don't believe we can wait until after Monday." Added Republican Sen. Michael Gibbons of Kirkwood: "Anything we can straighten out here ... I think it would help out on the floor."



Associated Press
Redistricting Panel Offers Compromise, Moves Forward
By Paul Sloca
May 2, 2001

With hopes of voting on a statewide redistricting map soon, a Senate panel on Wednesday offered a compromise plan between those offered by U.S. House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt and Rep. William ``Lacy'' Clay. Under an earlier agreement reached between the two Democrats from St. Louis, Clay's district - the only majority black district in Missouri - would go from 52 percent eligible black voters to 46 percent. The Senate Select Committee on Redistrcting's proposed map would boost the percentage of eligible black voters in Clay's district to almost 48 percent while taking 124,000 voters from the 2nd congressional district held by Republican Todd Aiken. Gephardt would gain more than 32,000 voters from Clay's district while Clay would take more than 15,000 voters from Gephardt.

Congressional districts are being redrawn based on the 2000 census so that each of Missouri's nine districts has about 621,690 residents. So far, the focus of the committee has been on maps in the St. Louis area. ``It's just some different things to look at and different things to discuss,'' said Sen. David Klindt, R-Bethany, and chairman of the committee. ``I don't want anyone to think this is the final map, but changing things in the St. Louis area can change two or three counties outstate so fast. We just wanted to see what the middle ground looked like.'' Sen. Steve Stoll, D-Festus, said he was encouraged that the committee was willing to talk through the issues in hopes of getting a map to the Senate floor for debate. ``Sometimes when the pressure is on you people work even harder,'' Stoll said.

Klindt said that the five-member committee could unveil a statewide redistricting map on Thursday and vote on it. He noted that with less than three weeks left in session, time is important. ``My intention and my plan ... is to come out with a statewide map we can look at,'' Klindt said. ``We're getting down to the short rows.'' The Legislature has until February 2002 to redraw the congressional districts. If lawmakers fail to reach an agreement, a federal court could complete the job. One of the committee's biggest concerns is keeping redistricting out of the courts, something that has been hard to do in the past. One of the keys is getting each congressional district as close to the 621,690 population figure as possible. ``I don't think any of us wants this in the courts,'' Klindt said.


Associated Press
Panel Raises Concerns About Gephardt-Clay Redistricting Plan
By Paul Sloca
April 25, 2001       

A compromise between U.S. House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt and Rep. William ``Lacy'' Clay on congressional redistricting is an illusion that favors Gephardt over the freshman congressman, a member of a Senate panel said Wednesday. Sen. Michael Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, a member of the Republican-controlled redistricting committee, said Gephardt is solidifying his Democratic base at the expense of black voters in Clay's district. ``It's the kind of agreement like when the school boys have you in a headlock and want some lunch money,'' Gibbons said. ``It looks like an agreement between the highest ranking Democrat in Congress and a freshman congressman.''

Congressional districts are being redrawn based on the 2000 census so that each of Missouri's nine districts has about 621,690 residents. According to that average, Clay's 1st District would need to gain 107,000, Gephardt's 3rd District would need almost 26,000 and the 2nd District of Republican Rep. Todd Akin would need about 11,000. Under the agreement reached earlier this week between the two Democrats from St. Louis, Gephardt would gain an estimated 72,000 people from Clay's current district. Clay would gain 183,000 constituents from Akin's district and Akin would gain 51,000 from Gephardt's district. A congressional district map reviewed by the committee indicated that Clay's district - the only majority black district in Missouri - would go from 52 percent eligible black voters to 46 percent. Gephardt, who would gain those voters, would see his Democratic base jump from about 54 percent to 60 percent under the agreement.

Gibbon's argument was countered by fellow committee member Sen. Steve Stoll, D-Festus, who said there was no indication that Clay was forced into the agreement. ``It seems to me like he (Clay) is a man who can take care of himself,'' said Stoll, who talked to representatives from both camps. ``This was an agreement that they reached mutually.'' Clay said Tuesday that he was willing to help Gephardt shore up his district. ``I went into that meeting knowing he needed help,'' Clay said. ``As long as he was reasonable, I would be reasonable.'' Earlier this month, Clay presented a map to the state Senate redistricting committee that significantly expanded into the territory currently represented Gephardt. A spokesman for Gephardt rejected that proposal, saying it failed to help all Democratic incumbents.

State Rep. Quincy Troupe, D-St. Louis, said the latest map proposals are the first attempt in three redistricting cycles he has seen to take black voters out of the 1st Congressional District. ``This map is contrary to everything we've done for the last three redistrictings,'' Troupe told the committee, which did not take a vote on the map. ``This is the first time I've seen a map give up black voters.'' Stoll responded that while race is an important factor in redrawing congressional lines, it is not an overriding one. ``Race can be a factor in our decision, but can't be our only factor,'' said Stoll, referring to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Akin also criticized the proposal, saying his district would be losing 183,000 people to appease the two Democratic lawmakers. He said he was never consulted about the map, which transfers parts of traditionally white and affluent areas such as Ladue and Creve Coeur to Clay. ``This proposal is neither bipartisan nor a true compromise,'' Akin said in a statement Tuesday. ``I was not consulted.'' The Legislature has until February 2002 to redraw the congressional districts. If lawmakers fail to reach an agreement, a federal court could complete the job. The Senate committee was scheduled to meet again Wednesday night for further talks on the proposal.



St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Gephardt-Clay Redistricting Power Struggle Goes Public; Outcome Will Shape Political Fortunes of Lawmakes, Democrats
By Terry Ganey
April 22, 2001       

A political chess match is under way between congressmen William Lacy Clay Jr. and Richard Gephardt. The outcome will determine the congressional landscape of the St. Louis area for the next 10 years. Clay and Gephardt, both St. Louis Democrats, are contesting how to draw the new boundaries of their congressional districts--the 1st and 3rd, respectively. The power struggle has gone public as legislative committees prepare to unveil proposed district maps that will take into account 2000 census figures. State Rep. Joe Treadway, co-chairman of the House Redistricting Committee, figures Clay and Gephardt have yet to reach an agreement. Otherwise, he would have been given a map representing a compromise between the two.

"I haven't seen any map as yet," said Treadway, D-Lemay. The Clay-Gephardt struggle has unique dimensions and national implications. A freshman congressman, Clay is a political prince who won election to a House seat held by his father for 32 years. He is an African-American representing a predominantly black district, and federal law prohibits the dilution of black voting strength. Gephardt is a heavyweight when it comes to clout and experience. A former St. Louis alderman, he was first elected to the House in 1976. As House minority leader, he is the likely choice for speaker should Democrats regain control. Republicans would like to weaken his re-election chances.

After about a dozen private meetings, Clay pushed the dispute into the open when he proposed his own 1st District map to a state Senate Redistricting Committee. The map carved into Gephardt territory, carting off more than 70,000 residents from the 3rd District into Clay's district. Because the map was released by a Senate committee and the Republicans control the Senate, Clay's move prompted Gephardt's allies to accuse Clay of conspiring with the GOP. "Clay wants a district he will never have to work in while at the same time jeopardizing the Democratic leader," said one Gephardt lieutenant speaking on the condition of anonymity. Clay said he brought out his map because Gephardt's people had one, which was not publicly circulated, that would take 80,000 residents from Clay's district.

Clay said Gephardt's supporters wanted to move the 3rd District into Clayton, Hadley and University townships - currently in the 1st District - while moving Clay's district into west St. Louis County territory represented by Rep. Todd Akin, R-Town and Country. "Imagine how diverse that district would be from north St. Louis to Ladue," Clay said. But Clay also recognizes that his initial proposal is a "fantasy map." "We know that we won't necessarily get the ideal district that we started out asking for," Clay said. "I'm flexible about where my lines end up, within reason." The 1st District is the keystone to solving the congressional redistricting conundrum.

Because it has lost the most population, mapmakers have to find 107,000 residents to add to it to bring it up to the district average of 620,000. Where those numbers come from - either Akin's or Gephardt's districts - will affect the political fortunes of all three incumbents. Clay wanted to add numbers of African-Americans who migrated into south St. Louis. Gephardt supporters say more people can be found by moving the 1st District further into north St. Louis County to include Florissant, Hazelwood, St. Ann and Bridgeton. They want the dividing line between the two districts to be Highway 40 (Interstate 64) in St. Louis. "We want to have a majority African-American district for Lacy Clay," said a Gephardt ally. "But the Democratic leader should not be drawn into a Republican district."

Fixing the 1st, Then the Rest

Once the 1st District situation is resolved, it should be easier to configure the state's other eight congressional districts. The 3rd District needs to pick up 26,000 residents, and the 2nd needs 11,000. Akin, a freshman congressman who served in the state Legislature with Clay, said he understood how Clay could be concerned about redistricting. "When you are a new congressman and they are drawing a new map, you don't want to see a new map that will make things difficult for you, and that's what he was worried about," Akin said. "I don't know that the second (district) is going to change a whole lot. Clay's boundaries will come west into our district some, and that will push us more into St. Charles." Akin said he has met with Clay several times to discuss redistricting. He said he has not met with Gephardt.

The mapmakers have more than population shifts to deal with. Redistricting is a potential legal minefield because of federal law and court cases designed to preserve minority groups' voting strength. A district cannot be configured to purposely dilute black voter strength nor can it be packed in such a way to reduce African-American political influence in neighboring districts. How those ideals are translated into percentage of voters is subject to interpretation. Clay's "ideal" district proposed a 55 percent African- American population. Donald Verrilli, a lawyer for Impac 2000, said last week that a black candidate could be confident of election in a district with a 45 percent black population. Impac 2000 is a Democratic Party organization that works on redistricting cases throughout the country. Verrilli said the organization has turned its attention to Missouri partly because the state Senate Redistricting Committee planned to hire Michael Carvin of Washington, a lawyer who argued for Republican George W. Bush in the Florida recount. Verrilli said hiring Carvin "was a sign that this was an intensively partisan process." The Legislature - a Republican Senate and a Democratic House - will have to draw the lines between now and May 18. Gov. Bob Holden, a Democrat, will have to sign them into law. If they fail, the responsibility goes to federal courts.

Associated Press
State Representative Offers Up Own Map for Congressional Redistricting
By Clayton Bellamy
April 19, 2001       

A state lawmaker has offered his own map to a Senate panel charged with redrawing congressional districts. The map offered Wednesday evening by state Rep. Jon Dolan, R-Lake St. Louis, would shuffle St. Louis area turf among the three districts there, put all of Blue Springs in the district with Kansas City, and add Jefferson City into the northeastern 9th Congressional District. Dolan said he offered the map to counter suggestions that populations shifts indicated by the 2000 Census would require major changes in the state's nine districts. He also said some testimony at other redistricting hearings has called for pulling large tracks of land from one district into another to ensure that each has the required 621,690 citizens. Dolan said he started by adding territory to the 1st District, the only black majority district in the state. The north St. Louis district, currently held by U.S. Rep. William "Lacy" Clay, needs more than 107,000 new constituents. Once expanding the Democrat Clay's district to the north, Dolan said he had to compensate in the 3rd District, held by House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt. Gephardt's seat needs to pick up 25,000 people.

If Dolan's map is approved, the Democrat Gephardt would pick up turf in suburban - and often Republican - St. Louis County at the expense of the 2nd District, which would move north along the Mississippi River. Shifting the St. Louis area districts won't be easy. A fight is already brewing there after Clay proposed last week that his 1st District expand significantly into the area now represented by Gephardt. Dolan said his main concern was in keeping similar communities within one district. He said he didn't know how his map would affect the politicians holding the seats. "I think this a fair way to do it," he told the committee. "It takes into consideration the needs of all Missourians." Blue Springs, now divided between the 5th, 6th and 4th districts would all go under Democrat Karen McCarthy, whose 5th District needs to add nearly 45,000 citizens.

Sen. David Klindt, R-Bethany, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Redistricting, said he hasn't gotten a good look at Dolan's proposal. But after a cursory, first glance, he said it met the committee's goals of drawing compact districts that don't divide counties or too many cities and that preserve the voting power of ethnic minorities. U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, a Republican representing the northwestern 6th District, told the panel he would like to keep Blue Springs in his district, which now has 14,000 too many constituents. Every 10 years, political maps are redrawn based on U.S. Census figures to reflect shifts in population.

Just getting a map won't be easy - new boundaries need to be approved by both legislative houses and Democratic Gov. Bob Holden. The House also has its own committee looking at congressional districts. Only Dolan, Graves, and state Rep. Bob May, R-Rolla, testified at the Senate Select Committee on Redistricting hearing. May, a former forestry worker, asked the panel to keep Rolla in the southeast part of the state's 8th District. The 8th contains most of the Mark Twain National Forest, and the forest's headquarters is in Rolla. The hearing was the panel's second attempt to gain public testimony on redrawing the congressional boundaries. The first hearing was Monday in Kansas City. The panel is to hold another hearing Thursday in St. Louis.



Kansas City Star
Parties Ponder Redistricting; Gephardt Base Could be One Key Issue
April 3, 2001       

As legislative leaders got down to the business of redrawing Missouri's congressional districts last week, all eyes were focused on the St. Louis area and the fate of U.S. House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt. The 2000 census numbers have boxed in Gephardt and freshman U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, who share a shrinking Democratic base in the city of St. Louis. All around them are booming Republican suburbs. And this year, unlike the last four times Missouri's congressional districts have been redrawn, Democrats will not dominate the process. Democrats still control the plan that will be drawn by the Missouri House. But Republicans will shape the plan that comes out of the state Senate. That has both sides maneuvering to come up with a plan that will protect their party's current incumbents and help their candidates during the next 10 years.

But the changes have to satisfy lawmakers from the other party and Democratic Gov. Bob Holden, who has veto power over whatever plan emerges. That means people throughout the state - including many in Kansas City - might be voting for a new representative in Congress next year. "It's like a game of chess: You move one area and it changes everything else," said state Sen. David Klindt, a Bethany Republican who is chairman of the Senate Redistricting Committee. "Everyone is saying the (showdown) is in St. Louis. But everyone could be in for some surprises." Redistricting in each state is required every 10 years by the U.S. Constitution to reflect population shifts. In Kansas, the biggest potential target is U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, a Democrat from Lenexa. Moore's 3rd District, which contains all of Wyandotte, Johnson and Miami counties and part of Douglas County, must shed 64,000 people to bring it in line with the state's three other districts. Moore's district could become even more Republican if the Legislature trims the Democratic-leaning area around Lawrence from his district. The Missouri redistricting will affect all nine congressional districts. Four will have to shrink and five will have to grow to reach the ideal population of 621,690. The ideals are arrived at by dividing the population of a state by the number of congressional seats.

The biggest changes are likely near the edges of current districts. That means there could be major changes in Jackson County, where three congressional districts intersect. The districts converge in Blue Springs. State Rep. Carson Ross, a Blue Springs Republican who is on the House Redistricting Committee, said his top priority is to get his city into one district. The current congressional map divides Blue Springs among the 5th District, which is dominated by Kansas City; the 6th, dominated by rural interests in the northwest corner of the state; and the 4th, which sprawls east of Jefferson City and as far south as the Ozark foothills. "Unfortunately, when you have three congressmen, no one claims ownership and you become a stepchild," Ross said. "People consider Ike Skelton their congressman because he has an office there. But most people are in someone else's district." Ross and state Sen. Harry Wiggins of Kansas City, the ranking Democrat with the Senate redistricting group, said the legislature should be able to come up with a plan that will divide Jackson County between no more than two districts. The 5th District, now represented by U.S. Rep. Karen McCarthy, a Democrat from Kansas City, needs to gain 44,640 people to be equal to other districts. Wiggins said those could be picked up by moving the boundaries south into Cass County, east into the Jackson County suburbs or north into Platte and Clay counties.

The latter two solutions also would help solve another problem. The 6th District, which now includes all of Platte and Clay counties, needs to shed 14,145 people. And the first two changes would help solve a problem in the 4th District, which needs to lose 37,843 people. The 7th District in the southwest corner of the state, which includes Springfield and Branson, must lose 73,379. Ross said public hearings on the changes in the 4th through 9th districts are tentatively scheduled for Thursday at Fort Leonard Wood, Friday in Springfield, Monday in Mexico and April 12 in Kansas City. But the thorniest problems are in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd districts near St. Louis, which need to gain population. Gephardt's 3rd District, which includes south St. Louis, the suburbs in Jefferson County and rural Sainte Genevieve County, needs to grow by 25,624 people. Wiggins said Gephardt's staff has asked to move the district farther north into the city. But such a move would cannibalize part of Clay's political base in the 1st District. Clay, whose father held the seat for 32 years, already must pick up 107,426 people to bring his district to the proper size.

Klindt, the state Senate Redistricting Committee chairman, said that Senate Republicans were trying to come up with a fair plan. The first proposed maps could be unveiled as early as today. Republican Party leaders have made no secret that they are gunning for Gephardt. But the goal of adding Republican precincts to Gephardt's district is complicated by constitutional requirements. U.S. Supreme Court decisions have held that the plan cannot discriminate against minority voters, either by packing them into one district or spreading them among several to dilute their strength. Districts must be as compact as possible and made up of contiguous territory. If possible, counties and cities should not be divided between districts. And districts should not divide groups of people united by geography or social, cultural and ethnic similarities. Wiggins said he thought districts could be drawn that would keep the 1st and 3rd Democratic. But Ross said that would be a difficult task, and the racial aspects make Gephardt the odd man out. Clay is Missouri's only black representative in Congress. The 1st District must keep its significant black population, Ross said. A district drawn so that it was unwinnable by a black candidate would surely spawn a lawsuit.

To reach Kit Wagar, Jefferson City correspondent,
call (816) 234-4440 or send e-mail tokwagar@kcstar.com.


Associated Press
Political battle already shaping up over redistricting
Paul Sloca
April 2, 2001       

Redrawing the boundaries of Missouri's legislative districts is a politically charged task that sometimes ends up in court. This year, the legal questions have begun even before the work. Just hours after Gov. Bob Holden named the appointees to the Senate and House redistricting commissions, indignant Republicans accused Holden of mishandling the appointment to both commissions of GOP Rep. Mark Richardson of Poplar Bluff. Republicans said Holden was promoting partisan division by appointing Richardson, who had been submitted by the state Republican Party but later sought to have his name withdrawn.

The GOP had submitted 18 candidates for the party's nine seats on the House commission and its five seats on the Senate commission. Democrats have an equal number of seats on both commissions. Holden quickly rejected two of the Republican submissions: David Barklage, who is chief of staff for Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder, and Woody Cozad, a former executive director of the Missouri Republican Party. The governor chose Richardson over Barklage for the House commission seat from Missouri's 8th Congressional District.

"Representative Richardson is someone the governor has known for a long time and he is someone who understands the legislative process and will work to reach consensus," said Julie Gibson, Holden's chief of staff. The legal issue stems from Richardson's membership in the Missouri House. Holden's office says that Richardson may have to resign either from the two redistricting commissions or from the House. Commission members receive $15 in daily compensation, and state law bars legislators from being paid for other government jobs.

Republicans said that's what Holden planned all along in an attempt to tip the balance of the commissions in favor of Democrats. "What the governor has achieved is a heightened partisan division," said John Hancock, executive director of the Missouri Republican Party. If Richardson quits the commissions, it is unclear whether - or how - a replacement could be chosen. The Missouri Constitution does not address vacancies on the redistricting commissions. The constitution gives the governor general authority to fill "all vacancies in public offices," but does not state specifically whether the commissions are public offices.

No sitting lawmaker has ever served on a legislative redistricting commission, according to longtime observers, so there is no legal precedent in Missouri on how to handle Richardson's case. Commission members will meet in mid-April to begin redrawing House and Senate district lines based on recently released U.S. Census Bureau data. If the commissions fail to meet a Sept. 26 deadline, the matter goes before a judge who can decide the boundaries. Holden, in announcing the commission memberships, said flatly: "We hope for bipartisan cooperation throughout this process. Our goal is for these commissions to draw fair maps that reflect the new census figures, equalize population and respect the political boundaries and communities of interest."

Richardson questioned the governor's sincerity. "I'd like to know what the governor's real motive was. Did he pick me because he thinks I'm the best man for the job, or does he have some ulterior political motive?" Richardson said. Holden was traveling around Missouri on Thursday and Friday and was not available to comment on the dispute, aides said. The redistricting spat could bleed over to the Legislature, especially in the Republican-controlled Senate, where President Pro Tem Peter Kinder has made a point of espousing a bipartisan spirit this session. "It's all in jeopardy right now," said Kinder, who recently extended a "peace offering" to Holden by pledging to bring a Holden-backed transportation package to the floor.

Kinder implied later that the offer could be rescinded if the Richardson issue is not resolved. "I'd like to leave the door open a crack for him to show some good judgment," Kinder said. House Minority Leader Catherine Hanaway, R-Warson Woods, said the Richardson situation also could have a chilling effect on the House, where both parties have promoted bipartisan cooperation. "It has tremendously strained our relationship with the governor's office, and his legislative agenda is before the House," Hanaway said. House Speaker Jim Kreider, D-Nixa, said the Republican criticisms of Holden's handling of the appointments reflected badly on the GOP. Still, Kreider perhaps summed up the entire situation when he said: "Redistricting is all about partisanship. Everybody's going to do what they can to get an advantage."

 



Associated Press
Holden faces GOP charges on redistricting panels
Paul Sloca
March 30, 2001

Angry Republicans have accused Gov. Bob Holden of mishandling the appointment of a GOP legislator to bipartisan commissions that will redraw Missouri's state House and Senate districts. Rep. Mark Richardson of Poplar Bluff may be faced with resigning either from the two redistricting commissions or from the House. Commission members receive $15 in daily compensation, and state law bars legislators from being paid for other government jobs. If Richardson were to quit the commissions, it was unclear whether - or how - a replacement could be chosen.

The Missouri Constitution makes no provision for filling vacancies on the commissions, Holden's chief of staff said. Holden, a Democrat, announced the memberships of the House and Senate redistricting panels Thursday. The 18-member House commission has nine Democrats and nine Republicans; the 10-member Senate commission has five members from each party. All five Republicans on the Senate panel, including Richardson, were appointed to the House commission as well. All of the appointees had been submitted for Holden's consideration by their state parties, but Richardson had sought to have his name withdrawn.

Richardson said Thursday he was befuddled by the appointment and unsure of what to do. "It's too early to commit one way or the other," Richardson said. "I'm quite shocked. "I'd like to know what the governor's real motive was. Did he pick me because he thinks I'm the best man for the job, or does he have some ulterior political motive?" Top Republicans called a news conference, where they claimed Holden appointed Richardson against his wishes to give Democrats a sense they would have a greater say in redistricting.

"What the governor has achieved is a heightened partisan division," said John Hancock, executive director of the Missouri Republican Party. "He has assured himself that these commissions are going to be deadlocked and unable to do their job, which is to draw a map." Hancock was joined at the news conference by Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder of Cape Girardeau and House Minority Leader Catherine Hanaway of Warson Woods. Julie Gibson, Holden's chief of staff, said that once Richardson was appointed, no one else could be considered. Asked why Holden picked Richardson knowing the lawmaker had asked to be removed from consideration, Gibson said the governor believed he would do a good job.

"Representative Richardson is someone the governor has known for a long time and he is someone who understands the legislative process and will work to reach consensus," Gibson said. While Gibson said Richardson could not legally serve on the commissions and in the House, the Republican leaders said it might be possible if the $15 daily compensation were not interpreted as pay for an official office.

Commission members will meet in mid-April to begin redrawing House and Senate district lines based on recently released U.S. Census Bureau data. They must complete their work by Sept. 26. "We hope for bipartisan cooperation throughout this process," Holden said in a release. "Our goal is for these commissions to draw fair maps that reflect the new census figures, equalize population and respect the political boundaries and communities of interest." Census Bureau to Brief Reporters on Population Change and Distribution from 1990 to 2000

 



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