House GOP touts 'fair' House map that would pit 4 Democrats and 4 Republicans against fellow incumbents

08/08/2013 09:12 AM

UPDATED: House Republicans on Thursday proposed their version of a House district map in advance of the Aug. 19 special session, touting it as a “fair” plan that would only split two existing precincts and would pit the same number of Democrats and Republicans against other incumbents.

House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover said the minority caucus aimed to draw a map that is “constitutional, is legal and is fair.” Hoover said the biggest difference between the GOP proposal and previous maps drawn by House Democrats is that it splits two existing precincts as compared to 152 precincts split by the last suggested map in March.

That, Hoover said, will save counties $1.5 million.

“We made an effort as well to hold the pairing of incumbents to a minimum,” Hoover said in a press conference on the second floor of the Capitol. “We have made it as fair as possible with four Republicans and four Democrats being affected.”

Hoover said all House Republicans have signed off on the new map. And he said he gave no consideration to how many of the redrawn 100 districts Republicans could win in the next election.

“I have not even looked at that,” Hoover said.

But it remains a long-shot for House Democrats to accept the minority caucus’ proposal. Hoover said he will notify the Democratic majority Thursday of the map and what he says are its advantages. He said he has not yet gone over the details of it with Republican Senate President Robert Stivers.

The House GOP’s version would place four pairs of incumbents against each other: one pair of Republicans, one pair of Democrats and two sets of a Democrat and a Republican. They would include:

- In western Kentucky, Democratic Rep. Brent Yonts of Greenville and Republican Rep. C.B. Embry of Morgantown in a district that includes Muhlenberg and Butler counties plus a piece of northern Warren County. That would likely favor Democrats because Muhlenberg would be the dominant county.

- In southern Kentucky, Democratic Rep. Wilson Stone of Scottsville and Republican Rep. Bart Rowland of Tompkinsville in a district that includes southern Warren County and Allen, Monroe and Metcalfe counties — a district that probably would favor Republicans.

- In Eastern Kentucky, Republican Reps. Toby Herald of Beattyville and Marie Rader of McKee would be put together in the same district that covers northern Laurel County through Jackson, Owsley, Lee and Breathitt counties. (The House Democrats’ map unveiled in March did the same thing.)

- In northeast Kentucky, Democratic Rep. Rocky Adkins — the House Democratic floor leader who lives in southern Boyd County — would be pitted against Democratic Rep. Kevin Sinnette of Ashland in a Boyd County district.

That would open up four new districts:

- one in eastern Jefferson County that would likely favor Republicans. That’s similar to an open seat previous maps proposed by House Democrats suggested.

- one that includes Anderson and Spencer counties and a portion of Bullitt County. House Republicans said they believe that would favor Democrats because Anderson County would be the dominant county, and it has a majority of registered Democrats. But based on voter performance, it should be a competitive district.

- one in Boone County, which would favor Republicans.

- and one that would cover Estill and Powell counties and part of Madison County. Again, House Republicans said that, on paper, would favor Democrats. But Estill County is solidly Republican and voters in Powell and Madison counties have become increasingly willing to vote Republican even in state elections in recent years, making this one a competitive district.

Embry, one of the Republicans who would be drawn into a district with another incumbent, said he supported the new map. He said he wasn’t aware of a planned new Senate district that would include his home county of Butler County, but if that happens, he would give “consideration” to running for it.

“We realize no map will make everyone happy,” Hoover said. “I invite House Democrats to take a look at this map.”

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