House GOP challenges redistricting map in court over splits, a 'zig-zag' and a 'strip'

01/26/2012 10:55 AM

Three House Republicans, a southern Kentucky mayor and a Lewis County resident filed a lawsuit in Franklin Circuit Court Thursday challenging the constitutionality of the new state House redistricting map.

Republican Rep. Joe Fischer, R-Fort Thomas, who successfully challenged the House redistricting plan in the 1990s, filed the suit, which also seeks to delay the candidate filing deadline until the matter of the constitutionality of the map is decided. Also listed as complainants were House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover of Jamestown, Rep. Kim King (whose home county of Mercer was split by the House Democrats’ version of the map), Eubanks Mayor Frey Todd from Pulaski County and a Lewis County resident.

Specifically, the suit takes issue with the number of counties that were split — six more than the 22 that had to be spit because they contain more people than roughly 42,000 for a House district.

One of those counties, Lewis County, has 13,870 people and is a Republican-leaning county. The new map splits it among three districts that currently are represented by Democrats: the 70th (Rep. Mike Denham of Maysville), the 71st (Rep. John Will Stacy of West Liberty) and the 98th (Rep. Tanya Pullin of South Shore).

And the challenge also cites the contiguity of districts. Specifically, the complaint points to two districts in southern Kentucky that include a thin strip of one county in order to link others together.

  • The 80th District has a thin part of northern Pulaski County to connect Casey County with Rockcastle County and western Madison County. The suit calls that section “the Pulaski County strip.”

  • The 89th District includes a “Laurel County zig-zag,” according to the suit, that connects McCreary county along the Tennessee border to Jackson County.

However, that’s not the first time a House map has included a thin strip of a county in order to connect a spread out district. The map from 2002-2012 had the 18th District, currently represented by Republican Rep. Dwight Butler of Harned, stretch from eastern Daviess County across all of Hancock and Breckinridge counties then through a small strip of Hardin County in order to pick up southern Bullitt County.

No one challenged that district configuration.

Earlier this week, House Republicans filed a bill with an alternative map that split 24 counties — two more than the 22 minimum.

That map would pit five pairs of incumbent lawmakers against each other: two pairs of Democrats, one pair of Republicans and two sets of a Republican versus a Democrat.

The House district map approved by the legislature and signed by the governor placed nine incumbents against each other — eight Republicans and one Democrat.


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.