Analysis: How McGaha's retirement could affect Sen. David Williams' district

12/22/2011 06:01 PM

Sen. Vernie McGaha’s announced retirement means that that the legislative mapmakers now have more freedom to reshape districts in south-central Kentucky that need to gain some more constituents.

One of those is the 16th District represented by Republican Senate President David Williams of Burkesville.

Williams’ current district includes Monroe, Cumberland, Clinton, Wayne, McCreary and Whitley counties along the Tennessee border and has a total of 102,847 constituents. His district would need to gain at least 6,000 more constituents to have the minimum number for the state Senate and nearly 12,000 for the idea population, according to 2010 U.S. Census numbers.

One possibility would be to combine Cumberland, Clinton and Wayne with two populous and Republican counties from McGaha’s 15th District: Russell and Pulaski.

Together, those five counties would have a population of 118,569 — just under the maximum for a Senate seat.

State Rep. Sara Beth Gregory, a Republican from Monticello, said Thursday she wouldn’t be opposed to to district that looks like that. And she said it could make for some interesting Republican political dynamics.

“Obviously, if that were the layout, Pulaski County would by far be the largest county in the district, so some might say that would give them a better chance of electing a legislator (from there),” Gregory said. “With it being such a Republican area, it could lead to some interesting primaries as well, especially if it reaches the point that Sen. Williams is not running and that becomes an open seat.”

Gregory, who is one of Williams’ constituents, said she didn’t know whether Williams planned on running for re-election.

And should the district be redrawn that way, it’s unclear what that district would be numbered considering it would take elements of the 15th and 16th districts. Odd-numbered districts are up for re-election in 2012 while even-numbered districts are in cycle in 2014.

Here’s what Gregory had to say about the potential reshaping of that part of the Senate map:

One of the other factors in a new district that would cover Cumberland, Clinton, Wayne, Russell and Pulaski is that Williams currently splits his time between the house he maintains in Cumberland County and the home of his wife, Robyn, in Russell County. They also have a house in Frankfort that they use during session.


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