Friend versus friend: House Republicans brace for running against colleagues

03/05/2013 08:12 PM

Given the political nature of redistricting, House Republicans were frustrated but not surprised when they found out Tuesday that a dozen of them would have to fight against another sitting lawmaker to return in 2015.

The House Democratic majority drew six districts that pitted incumbent Republicans against another incumbent. In all but one of them, it places two Republicans against each other potentially in a primary. (However, state law requires a state House candidate to live in the district for one year before the election, which would give some of them time to move to another district before the 2014 election if this map is approved.)

The newly-drawn 2nd House District will pit Rep. Steven Rudy, R-West Paducah, against fellow Rep. Richard Heath, R-Mayfield. Rudy announced his surprise to the House panel when the maps were revealed, and feigned congratulations to House Speaker Greg Stumbo, the bill’s architect, for his use of “creativity” in drawing the map.

“I never imagined it would happen that way in the west, but that’s okay,” Rudy said. “I’m a little disappointed were doing it at this hour in the committee. I was excited when we received your letter back in January talking about getting together working in consensus,” Rudy continued by telling Stumbo he thought more input from Republicans could make the process less painful.

Freshman legislator Rep. Jonathan Shell of Lancaster and veteran Rep. Mike Harmon of Danville will face each other in the re-created 91st District.

Shell told Pure Politics he has already had lots of questions from constituents in Madison County about redistricting, and said those community members will be hurt by the move.

“My first reaction is that I’m disappointed, but you know with the politics that have already been played so far during this session it’s nothing that I didn’t already expect,” Shell said. “This actually pits more Republicans against each other this time than it did back in the first map that was back in 2012.”

For the second time in as many years, Republican Rep. Jill York of Grayson will be matched up in a proposed district against Democratic Floor Leader and 14-term incumbent Rep. Rocky Adkins of Sandy Hook. York is the only incumbent Republican to be drawn into a map with a sitting Democrat.

And she said she’s ready for a fight.

“I feel sorry for Rocky Adkins,” York told Pure Politics on Tuesday. “I’m upset that my district has been basically been torn in half. The portion of it that is predominately Republican has been taken away from the Republican Rep., and handed off to a Democrat who has never been on the ballot in that part of the world.”

The courts tossed out proposed redistricting maps last year after the Franklin Circuit Court and eventually the Kentucky Supreme Court found them to be unconstitutional. York told Pure Politics all options to challenge the 2013 map are on the table this time too.

“When people want to twist things to the point where you have to bring the constitution into decide who is being most fair, then as the Speaker said a lot of things are for the courts to decide these days – apparently,” York said referencing a dispute on the House floor to pass the budget funding bill the constitutionally required three-fifths majority.

Three other districts place Republicans against each other: Reps. Michael Meredith, C.B. Embry and Jim DeCesare in a new 17th District near Bowling Green; Reps. Marie Rader and Toby Herald in an Eastern Kentucky district of Lee, Jackson, Owsley and part of Laurel counties; and Reps. Ben Waide and Lynn Bechler in western Kentucky in a district that includes Madisonville and Crittenden and Caldwell counties.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm joined cn|2 in December 2011 as a reporter for Pure Politics. He is now the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics. Throughout his career, Nick has covered several big political stories up close, including interviewing President Barack Obama on the campaign trail back in 2008. Nick says he loves being at the forefront of Kentucky politics and working with the brightest journalists in the commonwealth. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@twcnews.com.

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