House Republicans call Democrats 'political cowards' as they react to newly-drawn districts

01/11/2012 05:13 PM

FRANKFORT — Republicans bitterly opposed the suggested state House districts the majority Democrats unveiled Wednesday, taking particular exception to the districts that forced incumbent Republicans to face each other.

Rep. Jeff Hoover, the House minority floor leader from Jamestown, called the majority Democrats “political cowards” for the map.

Hoover would be one of potentially 11 incumbents to be in the same district as another sitting lawmakers — if the Republican candidate running for an open seat wins a Feb. 7 special election. (Bart Rowland is the GOP candidate and hails from Monroe County, which under the proposed map would move from the 53rd District to the 83rd District that Hoover represents).

A few counties west, three sitting Republicans would face each other in the May 22 primary under the proposed map. Republican Reps. C.B. Embry of Morgantown (first elected to the 17th District in 2002), Jim DeCesare of Rockfield (first elected to the 21st District in 2004) and Michael Meredith of Brownsville (first elected to the 19th District in 2010) would be placed into a new 17th District of Butler, Edmonson and part of Warren counties.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsrburg explained why:

Stumbo, during the presentation of the map in the House state government committee on Wednesday, blamed some of the problems with the map on what he called an inaccurate count by the 2010 U.S. Census.

“This count is horribly flawed,” he said, before using an example of his home county of Floyd by looking at voter registration numbers compared to the 2010 U.S. Census count.

Republicans still hope to amend the map on the House floor when it comes up for full approval by the House as early as Thursday.

Hoover said, ultimately, Republicans plan to respond by working even harder to take control of the chamber in the November election. Democrats hold 59 seats compared to 40 Republicans with the 53rd District — vacated by recently-elected Agriculture Commissioner James Comer — to be filled in a Feb. 7 special election.


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