New Political Boundaries Pit Incumbent Against Incumbent

By: Chris Frank/Associated Press Email
By: Chris Frank/Associated Press Email

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UPDATE: Friday, June 8, 2012

The Kansas political landscape has been scrambled after a federal court ruling changed the state's political boundaries. Redistricting was required because of population shifts and all districts must have equal populations. When state lawmakers failed to redraw the political maps, the job went to panel of three federal judges.

The legislature had several new political maps to consider, but it didn't manage to get any of them into law. The judges who determined the redistricting plan say they placed a relatively low priority on protecting incumbents and they refused to protect any of them. The results include several House and Senate districts where, suddenly, two or even three incumbents will soon be fighting over the same seat.

Emporia State University politcal scientist Michael Smith says the outcome was unexpected.

"I was surprised that a lot of those incumbent-versus-incumbent matchup seats are actually around Wichita," said Smith. "I would have expected Wichita not to have been hit so hard."

Political watchers say these new lines make a difference in how much your vote will actually count. Experts say these changes will make the stakes much higher in the upcoming primaries in August, especially in races where incumbents will battle incumbents.

UPDATE: Friday, June 8, 2012

Two members of the Kansas State Board of Education are in the same district under new lines imposed by three federal judges.

The judges ruled Thursday in a lawsuit over the Legislature's failure to redraw political boundaries to account for population changes over the past decade. The judges set boundaries for congressional, legislative and Board of Education districts.

The new map of the 10-member Board of Education moves Overland Park Democrat Sue Storm from the 2nd District into the 3rd District with Olathe Republican John Bacon. The new district covers southern
Johnson and northern Miami counties.

Board members serve four-year terms. The 3rd District seat won't be on the ballot until 2014. The 2nd District seat will be on the ballot in November, but Storm has said she would not run again.

UPDATE: Friday, June 8, 2012

New Kansas House districts for Topeka and east-central Kansas have three incumbents each.

It's an unusual feature of a political map drawn by three federal judges. The judges are handling a lawsuit over the Legislature's failure to pass any proposals for redrawing the state's political boundaries to account for population changes over the past decade.

Lawmakers were assessing the effects Friday.

The judges said in their order that they placed a relatively low priority on protecting incumbents and refused to pick which incumbents to protect.

The newly drawn 53rd Kansas House district for Topeka includes Democratic Rep. Annie Tietze and Republican Reps. Mike Burgess and Lana Gordon.

The newly drawn 76th District includes Republican Reps. Peggy Mast, of Emporia; Bill Otto, of LeRoy, and Willie Prescott, of Osage City.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Three federal judges have set new political boundaries for Kansas, making a change in congressional districts that many Republican legislators have opposed.

The panel issued an order Thursday night in a federal lawsuit filed last month. The judges drew new boundaries for congressional, state House, state Senate and State Board of Education districts because the Republican-dominated Legislature failed to do so.

A key change in the state's congressional map will expand the 1st District of western and central Kansas so that it takes in Manhattan, home to Kansas State University. Many Republicans wanted it stay in the 2nd District of eastern Kansas.

The order was more than 200 pages, and it wasn't immediately clear whether the new legislative districts favor conservative or moderate Republicans, whose feud created the legislative stalemate.

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