Kansas' Redistricting News
(March 14, 2001 - April 29, 2002)

 Roll Call: "Between the Lines (excerpt)." April 29, 2002
 Kansas Legislature: "Redistricting plan provides comic relief, confusion in northwest Kansas." April 29, 2002
 Topeka Capital-Journal: "District map fight continues." April 15, 2002
 Topeka Capital-Journal: "Republican-approved redistricting map passes Senate despite strong criticism." April 13, 2002
 Topeka Capital-Journal: "Map progresses through Senate." April 2, 2002
 Topeka Capital-Journal: "Senate plans to debate redistricting again." April 1, 2002
 Topeka Capital-Journal: "House committee reviews redistricting map." March 13, 2002
 Kansas City Star: "Kansas Senate approves House redistricting bill." March 8, 2002
 Topeka Capital-Journal: "Graves vetoes redistricting bill." March 5, 2002
 Roll Call: "Between the Lines (excerpt)." March 4, 2002
 Topeka Capital-Journal: "Redistricting map passes Senate by coalition's slim margin." February 15, 2002
 Topeka Capital-Journal: "House: Minority party claims that GOP manipulated map to help numbers." February 14, 2002
 Topeka Capital-Journal: "Parties walk fine lines." February 8, 2002
 Topeka Capital-Journal: "Battle Lines Drawn in Redistricting Plans." December 16, 2001
 Topeka Capital-Journal: "Legislators Lagging on Redistricting." November 27, 2001
 Topeka Capital-Journal: "Graves: Don't Split Douglas County in Redistricting." October 9, 2001
 Topeka Capital-Journal: "Redistricting Proposal Would Split Lawrence." October 3, 2001 
 Kansas City Star: "Setting New Lines Takes Months." March 14, 2001 


More recent redistricting news from Kansas

Roll Call
Between the Lines (excerpt)
By Chris Cillizza
April 29, 2002

Kansas Dust-up

The configuration of Rep. Dennis Moore's (D) 3rd district remains up in the air as the Republican- controlled Kansas House and Senate have passed maps that differ significantly in their approach to carving up the seat Moore has held since 1998. The map approved by the state Senate takes all of Douglas County, including the city of Lawrence, out of Moore's district and places it into Rep. Jim Ryun's (R) 2nd district. The University of Kansas is based inLawrence, providing a Democratic bastion of support for Moore in his past elections. Moore ousted then-Rep.Vince Snowbarger(R) with 52 percent of the vote in 1998 and won re-election with 53 percent in 2000. Both physician Jeff Colyer and former Navy pilot Adam Taff are competing for the Republican nomination this year. "Congressman Moore isn't going to support any map that takes Lawrence out of the community of interest that it shares with Kansas City," said Moore spokesman Jack Martin. The map has created controversy within Republican ranks because it would split a nine-county area in southeastern Kansas between three Congressional districts. One Republican state Senator called it "a grotesque gerrymander that only a political operative could love." Despite the concerns, the Senate approved the map by a 21-19 vote. The Senate map now moves back to the House, which is out of session until May 1. Earlier in the year the House approved a plan that would move much of Douglas County out of the district but would keep Lawrence within the boundaries of the 3rd. The likely result of the differing maps is a conference committee to settle the discrepancies. Filing closes in Kansas on June 24, and the primary is set for Aug. 6.

Kansas Legislature
Redistricting plan provides comic relief, confusion in northwest Kansas
By Joshua Akers
April 29, 2002

ST. FRANCIS -- At the counter of a NAPA Auto Parts store about 15 miles from the Colorado border, owner Mark Keller looked at a map of the latest U.S. House redistricting plan and laughed.

The plan, approved by the state Senate, would stretch the 1st Congressional District clear across Kansas, from Cheyenne County in the far northwest to Cherokee County in the southeastern corner.

Keller jabbed a finger at the lower right section of the map.

"Absolutely ludicrous to have someone in -- I don't even know what county that is -- and Cheyenne County represented by the same person," he said.

Keller's reaction was like that of some others in St. Francis: a laugh, followed by confusion, then resignation at the idea of placing a town of 1,500 on the yucca-studded high plains in the same district as St. Paul, a town of 646 people in the wooded, rolling hills of Neosho County.

Across the street at the True Value Hardware Store, Patrick Owens chuckled at the map and whistled.

"I don't understand that one," he said. "I don't know if it's political or what the hell is going on."

This year, state legislators are redrawing legislative, State Board of Education and U.S. House districts to account for shifts in population during the 1990s. The current 1st Congressional District, which already covers western and much of central Kansas, must pick up more than 34,000 residents.

The plan that inspired some laughter in northwest Kansas won Senate approval earlier this month and is backed by the White House and the Republican National Committee. Senators who voted for it -- all Republicans -- said it could help the GOP take all four of the state's U.S. House seats.

Meanwhile, the district's incumbent -- U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran -- has called the map disruptive and complained that it shifts too many counties among districts.

Moran was in the Kansas Senate, serving on the chamber's redistricting committee, in 1991 -- the last time the Legislature redrew the state's congressional districts.

"We went from five districts to four and it was less disruptive than this is," Moran said Friday.

But the plan Moran dislikes has the support of Kansas' other two Republican congressmen, Jim Ryun, of the 2nd District, and Todd Tiahrt, of the 4th.

And state Sen. Stan Clark, R-Oakley, who represents St. Francis, found the plan acceptable and voted for it. Clark points out that it gathers rural Kansas into the 1st District, while each of the other districts has a big urban core -- Topeka in the 2nd, the Kansas City metropolitan area in the 3rd and Wichita in the 4th.

Still, he acknowledged, "It's a strange-looking deal."

Clark wouldn't have got an argument on that point from a few farmers drinking coffee on a recent morning at the Frontier Cafe in Oberlin, 70 miles east of St. Francis on US-36 highway. They laughed when shown the map.

"It's dumb," Jerry Tally said as the others nodded in agreement. "We all think that."

In Agra, 75 miles more to the east, Bette Lathem, a school cook and manager of the town's grocery store, laughed about the map. Then, concern set in that western Kansas would lose its voice in Congress.

"They ought to leave the Big 1st alone," she said, using the familiar nickname for the district.

Back in St. Francis, both Owens and Keller had the same concern. Owens pointed to southeast Kansas on the map and said, "There's going to be more people down there."

Topeka Capital-Journal
District map fight continues
By Joshua Akers
April 15, 2002

Legislative leaders thought redistricting would be finished by now. It isn't.

The process, which occurs every 10 years to account for shifts in the state's population, has created strange bedfellows and further divided the Republican Party.

GOP leaders wanted the session to be the culmination of months of work on redrawing the state's House and Senate districts and U.S. House and State Board of Education districts.

After holding public hearings across the state and listening to Kansans' opinions, both chambers started the session with the goal of finishing the remapping task by March.

The House hit its self-imposed deadline, approving a plan for redrawing the chamber's 125 districts in mid-February. But the map sat in a Senate committee for two weeks as senators tried to deal with the fallout from their own redistricting debate.

A contentious split among conservative and moderate Republicans developed after 11 conservatives teamed with the Senate's 10 Democrats to pass a map for the chamber's 40 districts opposed by Republican leaders and Gov. Bill Graves.

"This was a predictable train wreck," said Sen. Kay O'Connor, R-Olathe, a member of the coalition. "If you disenfranchise a section of your own party, they have to go somewhere."

But Senate Reapportionment Committee Chairman David Adkins said everyone had an opportunity to participate.

"There is no reason for them to feel disenfranchised," said Adkins, R-Leawood. "They had full access to the committee process. All meetings were open and above board."

Nevertheless, conservatives' discontent fit perfectly with the feelings of Senate Democrats, outnumbered 30-10.

Democrats had complained from the beginning that they weren't included and were being ignored.

"The leadership of the Republican Party thought they could stuff their ideas down the throat of the minority party," said Sen. Janis Lee, D-Kensington.

The coalition stunned moderate Republicans in mid-February, amending its plan into the Senate redistricting bill on a 21-19 vote.

Sen. Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, who voted against the Senate plan, called the coalition "an unholy alliance," and Senate President Dave Kerr started referring to the process as "poison."

Gov. Bill Graves vetoed that proposal, and the Adkins committee went back to work on another map. By mid-March the coalition produced a map making a few minor changes to answer issues raised by Graves and to accommodate some moderate senators.

The Senate debated the proposal earlier this month, passing it 29-11 despite a veto threat from Graves. As it passed with two votes more than the 27 necessary to override a veto, the governor withdrew his objections.

The map passed the House by an overwhelming margin and was sent to the attorney general for review this past week, with the next step an examination by the state Supreme Court.

"Democracy is messy. Nobody said it would be a tidy process," said Adkins. "While the Senate map was very hard fought, once the map passed and the governor signed it, the Senate moved on."

The Senate moved right into another redistricting quagmire -- redrawing the state's four U.S. House districts.

What emerged on a 21-19 vote Saturday was a proposal backed by the White House and Republican National Committee that lumped southeast and northwest Kansas into the 1st Congressional District.

Supporters -- all Republicans -- said the map accomplished the GOP's goal of drawing all four districts so they favored their party and hurt 3rd District Rep. Dennis Moore, the only Democrat in the state's congressional delegation.

The proposal was derided as grotesque and even laughable for stretching the 1st District into southeast Kansas.

The House plans to take up the map when legislators return to the Statehouse on May 1.

House members could accept the Senate's amendments or send the bill to a joint conference committee, where negotiators would try to draft a compromise.

Some House members, including Republicans, are concerned about the Senate's congressional map.

Rep. Doug Mays, a member of the House Redistricting Committee, said he worries that the Senate plan pays too much attention to Moore.

"My biggest concern is that so much attention is being given to defeating Dennis Moore that we would put Congressman Ryun in danger," said Mays, R-Topeka. Republican Jim Ryun represents the 2nd District.

Mays said the House has been unaffected by the divisions that redistricting caused in the Senate and has met its goals. The plan for redrawing Kansas House districts is before the Supreme Court.

"The Senate has had its own problems," he said. "Had the Senate been able to resolve those, we would have been done by now."

With the House map before the court, the Senate map before the attorney general, a bill with new State Board of Education districts on the governor's desk, but a congressional map still unfinished, legislators are talking about improving the process.

"I would certainly be open to depoliticizing the process," said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka. "But we've got 10 years to decide."

Topeka Capital-Journal
Republican-approved redistricting map passes Senate despite strong criticism
By Joshua Akers
April 13, 2002

Some Republicans were prepared to fight for it -- but didn't have to -- because the Senate approved a redistricting bill lumping southeast and northwest Kansas together in the 1st Congressional District.

The 21-19 vote Saturday sent the bill to the House, which passed a radically different version last month. Legislative leaders plan to appoint a conference committee to draft the final version.

Before the vote, Senate leaders didn't know whether the bill would pass. If it hadn't, another long debate, like one Friday, likely would have followed.

Senators who supported the map were blunt about their intentions. They wanted to redraw the lines to favor Republicans and hurt 3rd District Rep. Dennis Moore, the only Democrat in the state's congressional delegation.

"It was the goal for Kansas to have four Republican representatives in Congress and this furthers that goal," said Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler. "It is especially important in an election year, when control of the House is in the balance."

The map moves Douglas County and the city of Lawrence into the 2nd District from the 3rd District. That shift could potentially cost Moore part of his political base.

The Senate vote came a day after a long and rancorous debate. The proposal has the backing of the White House and Republican National Committee, but inspired strong criticism, mostly because of the new 1st District.

Sen. Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, was so upset that the bill would split southeast Kansas between three congressional districts that he invoked a little-used constitutional provision that allowed him to protest the legislation. He then read a statement blasting the proposal as unconstitutional and unfair.

"On its face, this map is a grotesque gerrymander that only a political operative could love," he said.

Sens. Jim Barone, D-Frontenac, and Dwayne Umbarger, R-Thayer, asked to join Schmidt in his remarks.

Some House members found the proposal strange, even laughable, in its appearance. The district would run north of Wichita before spilling into southeast Kansas.

"This is the one that vomits into southeast Kansas," said House Minority Leader Jim Garner, D-Coffeyville.

Other senators disagreed. During Friday's debate, supporters offered the proposal as an amendment to another redistricting plan in the bill. Senators approved the amendment, 21-18.

According to Sen. Les Donovan, R-Wichita, who carried the amendment, the map was in the best interest of two of the state's four congressman. After the plan passed, Donovan said he hadn't received any complaints from constituents but had spoken to Reps. Jim Ryun and Todd Tiahrt, who supported it.

"This is the closest map we could get for the people involved," he said.

According to Schmidt and Sen. Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran -- who represents the 1st District -- didn't support the plan.

The proposal tying western Kansas to the far corner of southeast Kansas in the 1st District has been before senators since February.

The Senate amended its plan into a bill approved by the House last month.

Topeka Capital-Journal
Map progresses through Senate
By Joshua Akers
April 2, 2002

A bipartisan Senate coalition held together Tuesday and attracted enough extra votes for a redistricting bill to persuade Gov. Bill Graves to withdraw a veto threat.

The bill redrawing the Senate's 40 districts passed 29-11 and went to the House, where debate is planned early next week.

Graves last week threatened to veto the measure unless it were revised. But he backed off Tuesday after the plan received two more votes than the 27 needed to override a veto.

The coalition entered Tuesday's debate with 21 solid votes -- from its 11 conservative Republicans and 10 Democrats -- and picked up eight more.

"I'm going to support this map," said Sen. Dave Corbin, R-Towanda, explaining why he voted with the coalition. "I think we need to send a message to the governor and the people of Kansas -- and move on."

During debate Tuesday, the coalition blocked four amendments, so that the bill passed as it emerged last week from committee. Graves had vetoed an earlier Senate map supported by the coalition, which then made small revisions in drafting the latest plan.

Late Tuesday, Graves spokesman Don Brown said the governor would sign the bill even though it didn't do everything he wanted.

"It is his intent to sign the bill in the form it is in now and get it behind us," Brown said.

Senate President Dave Kerr and several other senators met with the governor after the Senate vote.

"I think he was fully prepared to veto it, if necessary," said Kerr, R-Hutchinson.

Kerr said the new map has enough changes that he and other senators advised Graves against vetoing the measure. Kerr said the governor's first veto led to alterations that made the second redistricting proposal more acceptable.

Lawmakers are redrawing Kansas House, Kansas Senate, U.S. House and State Board of Education to account for shifts in population over the past decade.

Redistricting became especially contentious after the coalition stunned moderate Republicans in mid-February by presenting its favored map during Senate debate and pushing it to passage. Conservatives and Democrats said they were tired of being shut out of the process.

"This has been a long process, and I hope it's over," said Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka. "There has been a good faith effort to address the concerns the governor stated in his veto message and individual concerns about the map."

Graves had criticized the earlier version because it was neither considered by a committee nor presented for public comment.

Moderate Republicans were unhappy with certain elements of the new plan, including its insertion of a new, seventh Senate district in Johnson County in a way that many believe would favor a GOP conservative.

Also unappealing to moderates were the new boundaries of two southeast Kansas districts currently represented by Sens. Jim Barone, D-Frontenac, and Dwayne Umbarger, R-Thayer, and the extension of the 15th district, currently represented by Sen. Derek Schmidt, R-Independence, north into Franklin County.

"I'm glad it's behind us, but I'm disappointed we didn't address some critical issues," said Reapportionment Committee chairman David Adkins, R-Leawood, who voted against the bill Tuesday.

The debate between Barone and Umbarger became especially intense last week, with Umbarger accusing Barone of wanting to keep a potential challenger, Rep. Doug Gatewood, D-Columbus, out of Barone's district.

Barone says that isn't the case, and Gatewood hasn't said whether he is interested in running for the Senate in 2004, the next time seats in that chamber are on the ballot.

Many senators said too much time was spent on redistricting and it was time to move on to other pressing issues, like the budget.

"We've had this long involved process that I always felt like we could conclude and obviously this ends on a very positive note," said Hensley. "Now we can move onto the budget and other important issues."

Topeka Capital-Journal
Senate plans to debate redistricting again
By Joshua Akers
April 1, 2002

A bipartisan coalition is pushing forward with a Senate redistricting plan despite a veto threat from Gov. Bill Graves.

Tuesday's scheduled debate would be the second time the Senate has taken up a bill redrawing the boundaries of its 40 districts to reflect shifts in population.

Graves vetoed an earlier plan drafted and pushed to passage by the coalition of the Senate's 10 Democrats and 11 conservative Republicans.

"The governor's belief is that the map as drawn now is not finished," Don Brown, Graves' spokesman, said Monday. "He believes it will be finished by the time it gets to his desk."

Graves said Friday he would veto the map if minor changes weren't made.

The latest map answers one of Graves' publicly stated concerns -- that the map he vetoed never was considered by a committee nor presented for public comment.

But the new version retains features that Graves had found objectionable, such as the creation of a new, seventh Senate district in Johnson County in a way many believe would favor a conservative Republican over a GOP moderate supported by the governor.

However, Johnson County was no longer of concern to some members, including Senate Majority Leader Lana Oleen.

"It's unfortunate the Johnson County senators are at odds, but we're going to have to move on," said Oleen, R-Manhattan, who voted against the first map.

Coalition members were confident on Monday that the new map would be approved without change.

"It's time for the Senate to pass the map as it is," said Sen. Janis Lee, D-Kensington.

The map was endorsed this past week by the Senate Reapportionment Committee. Chairman David Adkins said he didn't know what to expect when the measure is debate Tuesday.

"I would expect the possibility of lots of amendments," said Adkins, R-Leawood. "But I make no predictions. I learned my lesson last time."

Moderate Republicans plan to offer an amendment redrawing the boundaries of two southeast Kansas districts currently represented by Sens. Jim Barone, D-Frontenac, and Dwayne Umbarger, R-Thayer.

Umbarger wants Barone's district to remain unchanged. Umbarger's district would expand from the current counties of Labette and Neosho north into Allen County and east into Bourbon County.

Barone represents Crawford County and parts of Bourbon and Cherokee counties, and wants all of Bourbon County placed within a single district.

Topeka Capital-Journal
House committee reviews redistricting map
By Associated Press
March 13, 2002

A new plan for redrawing the state's four congressional districts is expected to win a House committee's endorsement.

The proposal, drafted by Republican leaders and before the House Districting Committee, would split the city of Lawrence between the 2nd and 3rd districts.

Committee members Clay Aurand, R-Courtland, and Troy Findley, D-Lawrence, said the committee should endorse the plan Wednesday and send it to the entire House for a scheduled Friday debate.

Lawrence officials don't want their community split, but some Republicans believe it is the best way to balance the population in the four U.S. House districts.

The plan would cost the only Democrat in the Kansas congressional delegation, Dennis Moore, of the 3rd, part of his political base.

Officials also want the University of Kansas to remain in the 3rd, with the state's portion of the Kansas City metropolitan area.

However, the plan would move the university to the 2nd District with parts of northeast and southeast Kansas.

The plan also would extend the 1st District from the Colorado border to the Missouri border along state's northern tier of counties and move Atchison from the 2nd into the 1st.

The 3rd must lose population for all four districts to be balanced. Supporters of the plan say splitting Lawrence gives the city two U.S. House members.

Meanwhile, the Senate Reapportionment Committee planned to discuss proposals for redrawing the chamber's 40 districts.

And Gov. Bill Graves signed a bill Monday redrawing the 125 Kansas House districts, sending the map to the Kansas Supreme Court for review.

Kansas City Star
Kansas Senate approves House redistricting bill
By John L. Petterson
March 8, 2002

A Kansas House redistricting bill sailed out of the Kansas Senate on Thursday with almost no opposition and headed for Gov. Bill Graves' desk.

The vote was 39-1.

The new House map would give Johnson County three more districts, bringing its number of representatives to 22.

The new House districts will be used in this year's elections.

Don Brown, Graves' press secretary, said the governor is expected to sign the House redistricting measure.

"The governor seems to be satisfied it meets the requirements for the task at hand," Brown said.

The new Senate map was vetoed by the governor. Work on a new proposal is expected to begin soon.

The bill is Substitute for HB 2625. Bills are available on the Internet at www.kslegislature.org/cgi-bin/index.cgi.

Topeka Capital-Journal
Graves vetoes redistricting bill
By Jim McLean and Chris Grenz
March 5, 2002

Gov. Bill Graves vetoed a controversial Senate redistricting map on Tuesday, charging it was unfair because it was drawn "in the dark of night."

The map was passed late last month by a coalition that included all 10 Senate Democrats and 11 conservative Republicans. It was approved over the strong objections of Senate President Dave Kerr, R-Hutchinson, whose own map was discarded in the process.

In his message to the Senate, which accompanied his veto, Graves said the issue was too important to be handled "behind closed doors."

"Like all other Kansans, I was not provided the opportunity to review the map prior to passage," Graves said in his message. "My only option to provide input in the process is through a veto."

The veto reopens what has been one of the most contentious and partisan debates of the 2002 legislative session. Senate Assistant Democratic Leader Janis Lee, D-Kensington, earlier said if the governor chose to veto the map, it would cause a "meltdown."

On Tuesday, the tone of Democratic leaders wasn't as confident. But they said the issue could complicate efforts to pass tax increases that the governor has said are necessary to close a projected $426 million budget shortfall.

"I don't see that the budget process is going to even be a part of our equation until we get this behind us," said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka. "I wouldn't put out any sort of a threat. But we have to get this behind us and move on to the other issues."

Graves issued a warning of his own to Democrats who might consider taking away their cooperation on budget and tax measures because he vetoed the map.

"I would discourage anyone from thinking this issue should be tied to many other issues we face this session," Graves wrote. "I have repeatedly stated and will reiterate now -- I will not negotiate or 'trade' votes on this issue for any other issue this session."

The Senate's moderate Republican leadership urged the governor to veto the map, which threw a Western Kansas Republican, Sen. Larry Salmans, of Hanston, into Lee's district, and created a new district in Johnson County that appeared to be designed for an anti-abortion conservative to win.

Lawmakers must redraw legislative, congressional and State Board of Education districts to account for shifts in population over the past decade. The 2000 U.S. Census generally showed that most western Kansas districts were losing population to the state's urban areas in Johnson and Sedgwick counties.

Members of the coalition that passed the map said the GOP leaders shut them out of the process.

"The map that came out of the redistricting committee was designed in the back closets on the Republican side of the aisle," Lee said. "It was conceived in darkness."

But in his veto message, Graves made similar accusations, saying the fact that no hearings were conducted on the coalition map denied the public an opportunity to study it and provide input into the redistricting process. The chairman of the Senate Reapportionment Committee, Sen. David Adkins, R-Leawood, agreed that the coalition circumvented the process.

"To the extent that anyone thinks they're going to hatch a map in a smoke-filled room in the dead of night, I think the governor has clearly and appropriately said those are not maps that will be blessed with his approval," he said.

Adkins said no senators presented his committee any alternatives to the one that passed. He said charges that Democrats and conservatives were shut out of the redistricting process are "delusional thinking."

"It's just not true," Adkins said. "As they say in the Kansas lottery, you can't win if you don't play."

The process will now begin again in committee using the vetoed map as a starting point, Adkins said. He predicted a new map would emerge by next week and could be sent to the Senate floor for a vote the following week.

In the meantime, moderate Republicans must try to pry at least one vote away from the coalition.

"I'm working to create movement," Adkins said. "There were a lot of emotions tied up in redistricting. I think we have to allow some time to pass for those emotions to cool, for calmer heads to prevail. There will be a few who continue to want to focus on who gets to win and who gets to lose in this process."

Coalition members insisted Tuesday that their ranks would hold. Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, a member of the reapportionment committee who voted with the coalition, predicted they might gain "a couple more" votes. Sen. Ed Pugh, R-Wamego, the other conservative member of the reapportionment committee, went even further, suggesting the coalition may stick together on other issues.

"This 21 that voted for the passage of the Senate plan, that would have been just a passing coincidence of political life," he said. "But by vetoing this bill and forcing the issue, it may end up being more than that."

Kerr, the Senate president, was pleased by the veto, even while acknowledging that bringing redistricting back to the table at the same time senators are trying to tackle the budget will make the session more difficult.

"We'll go to work on it immediately and get it done as quickly as we can," Kerr said. "We want to get this job done."

Roll Call
Between the Lines (excerpt)
By John Mercurio
March 4, 2002

Kansas Shenanigans

Kansas Republicans would like nothing better than to erase the only Democratic splotch from their otherwise all-GOP delegation. But Republican lawmakers in Topeka are having trouble producing a redistricting plan that threatens the lone Kansas Democrat on Capitol Hill, Rep. Dennis Moore.

"I don't think the Republicans can draw a district that defeats Dennis Moore," state Sen. David Adkins (R), chairman of the state Senate redistricting committee, told the Kansas City Star.

Last week, for example, following telephone calls in February between White House political guru Karl Rove and key Republican state Senators, Adkins' panel finally approved a map that increases the GOP's strength in Moore's Kansas City-based 3rd district, which the Democrat has held since he ousted then Rep. Vince Snowbarger (R) in 1998.

Indeed, the map would hurt Moore. Under the plan, the Democrat would no longer represent Democratic-leaning Douglas County, home of the University of Kansas, where he carried all but three precincts in 2000.Holding as much of Douglas County as possible is Moore's top priority in redistricting.

However, several Republicans have cited serious problems with the map, including Rep. Jim Ryun (R), whose adjacent 2nd district would absorb Lawrence and, subsequently, thousands of new Democratic voters.

The 3rd would go from a Democratic performance of roughly 43 percent to 42 percent, while the 2nd would go from 42 percent to 44 percent Democratic, according to the National Committee for an Effective Congress, a Democratic redistricting group.

Additionally, the GOP map was sponsored by state Sen. Derek Schmidt, a moderate, who has made little secret of his desire to challenge Ryun in a GOP primary.

Other Republicans have piled on. Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R) doesn't want to lose Montgomery County, a Republican stronghold, and Rep. Jerry Moran (R) objects to the plan because it draws him a district that stretches from Colorado to Missouri.

For his part, Moore has kept his head low as he awaits the cards he's dealt. "We're hoping politics doesn't play a part in this, but it usually finds its way in," said Jack Martin, a Moore spokesman.

Topeka Capital-Journal
Redistricting map passes Senate by coalition's slim margin
By Jim McLean
February 15, 2002

A coalition of Democrats and conservative Republicans no longer had the element of surprise on their side when the Senate gathered Thursday for a final vote on redistricting.

After ambushing the Senate's GOP leadership on Wednesday with a map sprung just before a preliminary vote, some questioned whether the coalition would hold together through Thursday's final action.

It did.

By the thinnest of margins -- 21 to 19 -- the Senate passed the coalition's map, which is designed to give a western Kansas Democrat a fighting chance of winning re-election and an anti-abortion conservative an advantage in a new Johnson County district.

"We had 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats and in the end I'd say that fairness won out," said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka.

Senate President Dave Kerr, R-Hutchinson, didn't see it that way.

Explaining his "no" vote from the head of the chamber, Kerr chastised coalition members for disregarding the work of the Senate Reapportionment Committee, which spent months redrawing the Senate's 40 districts to account for population shifts.

"Unfortunately, damage has been done," Kerr said. "It is my sincere hope that the process of blindsiding our colleagues with complex floor amendments does not continue."

Hensley, who had complained for weeks that the reapportionment committee wasn't interested in reviewing alternatives to its map, dismissed Kerr's complaint.

"It rings a little hollow to me," he said.

Standing among House members and legislative staffers observing the Senate vote, Burdett Loomis, a University of Kansas political science professor, said Kerr's remarks were aimed mostly at Majority Leader Lana Oleen, R-Manhattan.

Oleen voted against the coalition map on Thursday. But she voted for the plan when it was offered the day before by Sen. Ed Pugh, R-Wamego, as an amendment to a map that Kerr supported.

"She put the ball in play," Loomis said of Oleen.

Oleen called her Wednesday vote a mistake.

"I should have followed my own advice and taken a longer look at this map," said Oleen, who explained to colleagues Thursday that the she didn't vote for the coalition map on final action because after scrutinizing it she realized that it made more changes than its supporters had led her to believe.

"They just kind of fooled you with it, huh?" a reporter asked.

"Yeah," Oleen replied.

Several moderate Republicans who supported the map drafted by Kerr and the committee were angered by Oleen's Wednesday vote.

"There was an unholy alliance between the majority leader and the minority leader," said Sen. Derek Schmidt, R-Independence.

Sen. Dave Corbin, R-Towanda, said Oleen had damaged her relations with other Republicans.

"She took a big blow," Corbin said.

Democrats insisted they didn't know Oleen was going to vote with them Wednesday on the amendment.

"We were all absolutely shocked when Lana voted 'yes,' " said Sen. Janis Lee, D-Kensington, the chief beneficiary of the coalition map.

The map that was approved Thursday eliminates the 37th District represented by Sen. Larry Salmans, R-Hanston, and puts him in Lee's new 36th District. Under the committee-approved map favored by the Senate leadership, Lee would have been placed in the 40th District, represented by Sen. Stan Clark, R-Oakley.

Clark, an anti-abortion conservative, was a guiding member of the coalition that drafted the alternative map. But the key vote for it came from another conservative, Sen. Karin Brownlee, R-Olathe.

Brownlee voted against the amendment on Wednesday. But on Thursday, after looking more closely at the coalition map, she switched her position and voted for its approval.

"The more time I had to think about it, the more it was a 'yes' vote," Brownlee said.

When told that her reason for switching sounded remarkably similar to Oleen's, but in reverse, Brownlee smiled and said, "Isn't that interesting?"

Both Republican Senators from Topeka, Lynn Jenkins and Dave Jackson, voted against the coalition map.

Because each chamber of the Legislature traditionally approves the other's redistricting plan without changes, the Senate map is expected to clear the House without debate. From the House the plan would go to Gov. Bill Graves for his signature, then to the Kansas Supreme Court for an automatic review.

Topeka Capital-Journal
House: Minority party claims that GOP manipulated map to help numbers
By Jim McLean
February 14, 2002

For more than three hours Wednesday, Kansas House members butted heads over a redistricting map that forced members of both parties into new districts and fights against other incumbents.

The map that was tentatively approved and faces a final vote today puts four Democrats in two new districts, though one already has announced he will retire. It forces two other Democratic incumbents into potential battles against GOP incumbents.

Angry Democrats charged that Republicans had used heavy-handed tactics to get a map designed to increase their 79-to-46 majority in the 125-member House.

Leaders of the Republican majority responded that they had been fairer than their numbers required them to be.

"God is going to judge who told the truth today," an emotional Rep. Bruce Larkin, D-Baileyville, said during the debate.

"I take exception to the assertion that this has been a terrible, ugly, partisan process," said Rep. Doug Mays, R-Topeka, vice chairman of the House Redistricting Committee.

When the debate ended, the political future of Rep. Laura McClure, D-Osborne, remained up in the air.

The popular McClure, who Republicans acknowledge is one of the chamber's hardest working and best informed members, had promised GOP negotiators that she wouldn't run for re-election in exchange for a map that protected other Democrats.

"I told the committee, 'Don't save me over other Democrats,' " McClure said.

On Monday, GOP leaders acknowledged that they didn't want to risk Rep. Dan Johnson, R-Hays, in a fight against McClure. But they said they never demanded that she promise not to run against him.

"I never in the process of negotiations asked for a promise," said Rep. Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, chairman of the House Redistricting Committee.

However, O'Neal didn't answer directly when McClure asked him if GOP leaders would release her to challenge Johnson. She said she would ask Johnson after today's final vote on the map.

But Johnson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said he didn't think it was his responsibility to respond because he didn't ask McClure for her promise.

"This is the United States of America. She can do what she wants to," Johnson said. "I've never run from a fight in my life."

Late during Monday's debate, a handful of Republicans joined with Democrats to put Larkin in a new 63rd District against Rep. Dennis Pyle, R-Hiawatha.

The change, which passed 59-55, prevented Larkin from being placed in a district with fellow Democrat Jerry Henry, of Atchison.

A stunned Pyle immediately started asking for explanations from Republicans who voted for the change.

"This was one of those surprise attacks that you don't see coming," said Rep. Andrew Howell, R-Fort Scott, an ally of Pyle's.

For the most part, Shawnee County lawmakers weren't involved in the squabbling. That is because Mays and Rep. Rocky Nichols, D-Topeka, negotiated a compromise map that solved earlier disputes about Democratic Rep. Nancy Kirk's 56th District and Republican Rep. Cindy Hermes' 51st District.

Rep. Becky Hutchins, R-Holton, succeeded in adding an amendment that kept all of Jackson County in her district.

Hutchins' 50th District includes the northeast corner of Shawnee County.

Topeka Capital-Journal
Battle Lines Drawn in Redistricting Plans
By Jim McLean
December 16, 2001

All is fair in love, war and politics. Or so the saying goes.

Still, Democrats in Shawnee County and across the state are complaining bitterly about a redistricting map unveiled last week by Republicans in the Kansas House.

To accommodate population shifts, GOP members of the House redistricting committee collapsed several districts together. In four of the five new consolidated districts, they chose to force Democratic incumbents to run against each other. In the fifth, Democratic Rep. Laura McClure would have to defeat Republican Dan Johnson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, to remain in the Legislature.

"This is just a deliberate attempt to pit Democrat against Democrat," said Rep. Jerry Williams, D-Chanute, whom the proposed map places in the new 2nd District of southeast Kansas along with Rep. Bob Grant, D-Cherokee.

No Shawnee County Democrat would have to face off against another to retain their seat. But one, Rep. Nancy Kirk, D-Topeka, is going to have to convince a lot more Republicans to vote for her if she wants to return for a fifth term.

"I knew my district would change," Kirk said. "I didn't anticipate that they would lop off 50 percent of it and that the part they would chose would be the core of the district."

Kirk represents the 56th District, which covers the northern part of central Topeka, stretching from the Kansas River south to Huntoon. It is bordered on the west by a section of Urish Road and by Topeka Boulevard of the east.

Historically, the district has included the Potwin and Kenwood neighborhoods. But the proposed redistricting map swaps those areas for Westboro and Western Hills, two heavily Republican areas.

Currently, approximately 38 percent of the voters in Kirk's district are Republicans and 36 percent are Democrats. The rest are independents. Under the proposed new map, the percentage of Republican voters would increase to 46 percent, while the number of Democrats would slip to 32 percent.

"It's just so absolutely political," Kirk said. "But what can I do other than to say this is terrible."

No amount of complaining by Kirk and the Democrats is likely to change the map, said Rep. Doug Mays, a Topeka Republican who serves as the vice-chairman of the House redistricting panel.

"I still think the map as drawn makes perfect sense," said Mays of the plan that is scheduled to be presented Thursday to the full Special Committee on Redistricting.

Mays insisted that moving Westboro out of Democrat Annie Kuether's 55th District into Kirk's 56th District was done to unite previously divided communities of interest -- a primary goal of any redistricting process.

"Before, the center part of the city was split," Mays said. "I mean, good Lord, you had the fairgrounds and Westboro in the same district. That's not what I call a community of interest."

Mays said if he and the Republicans wanted to make it harder on Kirk, they easily could have moved her home precinct into Kuether's district.

Both Mays and Rep. Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, co-chairman of joint redistricting panel, said that Republicans, who command a 79-46 majority in the House, resisted the temptation to combine several other Democratic districts.

"I know there will be some who don't believe that," O'Neal said recently. "I think we were able to minimize the head-to-heads quite well."

Rep. Rocky Nichols, D-Topeka, said the GOP map tells a different story. Displaying several alternative maps that he produced with the help of a special computer program, Nichols said all of the significant shifts proposed in the Shawnee County districts could be avoided.

"What this map shows is that you don't have to do all this shifting," Nichols said, pointing to one of his color-coded maps. "You can add a few precincts here and a few there and guess what, you're within the margins."

Nichols isn't just concerned about changes in districts held by Democrats. He and Kirk said the expansion of moderate Republican Cindy Hermes' 51st District into the southern two-thirds of Wabaunsee County is intended to punish her for not supporting Mays in his bid for speaker of the House, which he lost by one vote to Kent Glasscock, of Manhattan.

"There was no excuse for what was done to her," Kirk said.

Mays insisted the changes in Hermes' district were necessitated by population growth and had nothing to do with the outcome of the speaker's race.

"I'm not a vindictive person," he said.

Still, Mays stands to benefit from the new map. In 2000, he narrowly avoided being upset by Democrat Cyndy Cain, winning a fifth term by only 65 votes.

If adopted, the GOP map would increase the number of Republicans in Mays' 54th district to 48 percent from 42 percent. It would reduce the number of registered Democrats to 29 percent from 32 percent.

Topeka Capital-Journal
Parties walk fine lines: Democrats relieved with latest redistricting map proposed by Republicans
By Jim McLean
February 8, 2002

For Democratic Rep. Nancy Kirk, of Topeka, this week's agreement on compromising the redistricting map was like waking up from a bad dream.

In December, the Republicans who control the House Redistricting Committee produced a map that virtually turned her 56th District upside down. But on Wednesday, committee members agreed on a new map that restores the core of the central Topeka district. It will be considered next week by the full House.

"It looks much better," Kirk said, studying a color-coded version of the new map while seated at her desk on the House floor. "It's my district back."

Well, almost. Because people are moving out of the city, Kirk needed to expand her district to stay within constitutional one-person-one-vote guidelines. But rather than entirely reconstructing it as the original map did, Republican and Democratic negotiators simply added a handful of precincts to the district's southern edge pushing it across Huntoon Street south of Gage Boulevard.

Kirk's district, which covers the northern part of central Topeka, stretching west to Urish Road and east to Topeka Boulevard, currently has about an equal number of Republicans and Democrats -- 38 percent and 36 percent, respectively.

The Republican map released in December would have increased the number of Republican voters to 46 percent and decreased the number of Democratic voters to 32 percent. In the compromise district, Republicans would have a 40 percent to 35 percent edge over Democrats. The remaining percent of voters would be unaffiliated.

"It's marginally more Republican, and I think that is fine," Kirk said. "I think I have been treated fairly."

So, why the change of heart by Republicans, who own a 79-46 majority and could have passed any map they wanted?

In a nutshell, they decided it was in their best interests to try to be fair, said Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, chairman of the redistricting committee.

"We do want some cooperation for the rest of the session," O'Neal said.

Democrats didn't agree to support all Republican sponsored measures to deal with the state's $426 million budget shortfall in exchange for a new map, O'Neal said. Nevertheless, he said Republicans expect the map to gain them some goodwill in what promises to be a difficult situation because of the state's financial problems.

"We will be disappointed for instance if we pass a fair redistricting plan but for the rest of the session Democrats vote in lock step against everything we want to do to try to get us out of here," O'Neal said.

Rep. Rocky Nichols, D-Topeka, negotiated with Rep. Doug Mays, R-Topeka, to produce the Shawnee County portion of the new map.

Nichols said that while the new map still pits some Democratic incumbents against one another in other parts of the state, overall it is a better map.

Agreeing with O'Neal about the reason for the GOP turnaround, Nichols said, "I think they were afraid that if they just gave Democrats the shaft on a map that Democrats would just stay home and mail in their 'no' votes."

The compromise map also is more to the liking of Rep. Cindy Hermes, R-Topeka, because it wouldn't expand her 51st District as far into Wabaunsee County.

When the first map was proposed in December, there was speculation that Mays was punishing Hermes for voting for Kent Glasscock over him for speaker of the House.

Glasscock, of Manhattan, defeated Mays by one vote just before the 2001 session.

Mays insisted that the proposed changes in Hermes' district -- which would have given the moderate Republican more conservative constituents -- were necessitated by population shifts.

"I'm not a vindictive person," Mays said at the time.

Representing Topeka

Kansas House of Representatives members whose districts include portions of Shawnee County:

Rep. Becky Hutchins, R-Holton, 50th District

Rep. Cindy Hermes, R-Topeka, 51st District

Rep. Lana Gordon, R-Topeka, 52nd District

Rep. Roger Toelkes, D-Topeka, 53rd District

Rep. Doug Mays, R-Topeka, 54th District

Rep. Annie Kuether, D-Topeka, 55th District

Rep. Nancy Kirk, D-Topeka, 56th District

Rep. Vaughn Flora, D-Topeka, 57th District

Rep. Rocky Nichols, D-Topeka, 58th District

Topeka Capital-Journal
Legislators Lagging on Redistricting
By John Hanna
November 27, 2001

Legislators are behind schedule in redrawing their own districts, but some believe they were too optimistic in predicting how quickly they could move on the politically charged issue.

The Special Committee on Redistricting began a two-day meeting Tuesday at the Statehouse.

Its 34 members quickly broke into small groups, along party and regional lines, to discuss House and Senate districts for parts of the state.

The new district lines are supposed to reflect population shifts Documented in the 2000 federal census.

Johnson County and the Wichita metropolitan areas are likely to gain power, while southeast Kansas and northwest and north-central Kansas could lose clout.

The 15 House Republicans who serve on the committee hoped to have a proposal for new representative districts finished by Wednesday.

The committee's eight Republicans senators thought they would have a plan ready for Senate districts within three weeks.

The committee originally planned to have proposals ready for a vote Tuesday, so that it could forward its maps to the entire Legislature, which convenes Jan. 14.

But any votes by the committee aren't likely until its next meetings, Dec. 20 and 21.

Earlier this year, the committee established deadlines in hopes that the Legislature could deal with redistricting quickly.

In 1992, partisan and regional bickering delayed passage of redistricting bills long enough that the state had to move its candidate filing deadline from June 10 to June 24.

But members said behind-the-scenes discussions among legislators about their districts have taken longer than anticipated, as did congressional redistricting in September and October.

"I don't know if we ever truly thought we could get it all done (Tuesday)," said Rep. Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, the committee's co-chairman.

Senators typically acquiesce on proposals for redrawing House districts, just as representatives are supposed to stay out of Senate redistricting.

Eight Democrats from the House and three from the Senate serve on the committee, but they can do little more than argue publicly if Republicans are united on a plan.

Democrats are in their weakest position on redistricting in 40 years.

The GOP holds 30 of 40 Senate seats and 79 of 125 in the House, and Gov. Bill Graves is a Republican.

In 1972 and 1982, Democrats Bob Docking and John Carlin were governor.

In 1992, Democrat Joan Finney was governor, and her party had a 63-62 majority in the House.

In their first discussions with each other, Republicans were upfront about their desire to draft plans that help Republican incumbents retain their seats.

They also want to make it easier for the GOP to capture open seats.

"We're waiting to see what they propose," said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka.

"At that point, we can enter into discussions and possible negotiations," he said.

The next legislative session begins in January.

Topeka Capital-Journal
Graves: Don't Split Douglas County in Redistricting
By John Hanna
October 9, 2001

Gov. Bill Graves opposes splitting Douglas County between two congressional districts, as some of his fellow Republicans have proposed.

Graves suggested Monday that Douglas County, which includes the city of Lawrence and The University of Kansas, be moved to the 2nd Congressional District of eastern Kansas. It now is in the 3rd District, which is centered on the state's portion of the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Last week, Republicans on the Legislature's Special Committee on Redistricting drafted a plan to keep the university in the 3rd District but put much of Lawrence in the 2nd. The GOP members then used their majority to make sure the committee forwarded the proposal to the 2002 Legislature, which convenes in January.

Graves said legislators haven't asked for his opinion, even though he'll have to sign off on any plan for it to be enacted. He said he doesn't support a split of Lawrence or Douglas County.

The state redraws the boundaries of its congressional districts every 10 years to account for shifts in population. The goal is to make districts equal in population, and the 3rd District has to lose about 61,000 residents.

The plan endorsed by the Republicans on the legislative committee would keep Johnson, Miami and Wyandotte counties in the 3rd District. It would take in a thin, 7.5-mile finger of land between the Kansas River and Kansas Highway 10, going west just enough to encompass all The University of Kansas.

In 1992, legislators included most of Douglas County, including the city of Lawrence, in the 3rd District, but put its northwest corner in the 2nd. The 2nd is represented by Republican Jim Ryun, the 3rd by Democrat Dennis Moore.

Graves said he wants to keep Johnson and Wyandotte counties together, and with that guideline, it's difficult to keep much of Douglas County in the 3rd District.

"Therefore, you can conclude that I think the best strategy is probably Douglas County being in the 2nd District," Graves said.

Topeka Capital-Journal
Redistricting Proposal Would Split Lawrence; Committee: Republicans would break southeast Kansas block into 2nd and 4th districts
By John Hanna
October 3, 2001

Republicans on a legislative committee are working on a congressional redistricting proposal that would split the city of Lawrence and southeast Kansas.

The 34-member Special Committee on Redistricting met Tuesday at the Statehouse and hopes to recommend a plan for the entire Legislature to consider when its 2002 session convenes in January.

The 23 Republicans and 11 Democrats on the committee first met separately to see whether they could agree among themselves. If Republicans can agree, they can push through any plan they want.

Most Republicans agreed on a proposal to split Lawrence. Much of the city -- including The University of Kansas -- would go into the 2nd District of eastern Kansas, instead of the 3rd District, centered on the state's portion of the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Leaders in Lawrence have said they don't want their city split between two districts, and many of them would prefer to remain in the 3rd District, represented by Democrat Dennis Moore. The 2nd District is represented by Republican Jim Ryun.

But Republicans don't want to split Johnson County, which would be necessary to keep Lawrence in the 3rd District.

The plan also would split the nine-county area of southeast Kansas between the 2nd and 4th districts, with Montgomery, Wilson and Woodson counties going into the 4th District. The 4th District is centered on Wichita.

The split is designed to avoid having the 1st District extend from the Colorado border to the Missouri border.

The state redraws its congressional districts every 10 years to take into account shifts in population. The districts are supposed to be as equal in population as possible.

Kansas City Star
Setting New Lines Takes Months
By Steve Kraske; John Dvorak
March 14, 2001     

Now comes the hard part. Having received their 2000 census numbers Tuesday, Kansas lawmakers must begin the arduous task of redrawing district boundaries for the U.S. House and the Kansas Legislature. Because the task undermines the careers of some lawmakers and provides new opportunities for others, the job is never easy. The process frequently includes litigation and threats of lawsuits.

"Based on the shift from the rural to the urban areas, somebody is going to get left out," said Trent LeDoux, the 2nd Congressional District's Republican chairman. "That makes this just about as contentious a process as you can get." Kansas' current U.S. House district lines, for example, went into effect only after a federal court ruling. Legislative committees will assume the job of drawing district boundaries. Public meetings will be held this summer. The goal is to file legislation containing new maps by year's end. The Legislature will consider them early next year. Gov. Bill Graves must sign off on the plans before they take effect. Officials hope that lawmakers finish by the end of February 2002. That way, the Kansas Supreme Court will have time to review the maps before the June filing deadline for candidates. 

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