New District Maps Cause Hectic Weekend For Kansas Politicians

By: Parrish Alleman Email
By: Parrish Alleman Email

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ever since new district maps were released late Thursday evening, lawmakers and party leaders have been scrambling.

“My first phone call, besides the 3 a.m. phone calls I was getting, was 6 a.m. and it was from our representatives - and it was just shock, 'I can't believe this is what my district looks like,'" Kansas Republican party Vice Chair Kelly Arnold said.

“These maps are pretty much the equivalent of a political reset,” Sedgwick County Democratic Party Chairman Brandon Whipple said.

The new maps force some incumbents into the same district and have party leaders trying desperately to fill more than two dozen empty seats.

“It's a process. It takes weeks. You talk to them. They have to talk to their families and their employers and look at their finances and it takes weeks to make this decision. We're giving them 72 hours,” Arnold said.

Representatives Pete DeGraaf and Jim Howell were both drawn out of their districts. Under the new boundaries they actually live in each others' old districts. So basically, they have to switch.

“A lot of new relationships, a lot of things to look forward to, but it's obviously a disappointment not to represent the area that I love so much,” Rep. Jim Howell R-Derby said.

The representatives tell us some of their colleagues are having to make much more difficult changes.

“Starting last Friday morning and throughout this weekend I’ve heard people are willing to move sometimes only two blocks to get back into the district they used to represent,” Rep. Pete DeGraaf R-Mulvane said.

Some of the people we spoke with say this painful process will most likely serve as a lesson to legislators in the future.

“I think they know if you go to the courts, you're going to get what you ask for, and that may be good or bad for you,” Arnold said.

“You got to go to Topeka and you got to do your job and I think if they would have we wouldn't be going through this,” Whipple said.

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