Inside the unfinished House redistricting map
02/28/2013 06:08 PM
It’s not exactly a land dispute of Hatfield and McCoy proportions, but Eastern Kentucky lawmakers continue to have a heck of a time agreeing on new district lines.
That has again helped delay the introduction of the new plan, which legislative leaders had hoped to unveil Thursday and pass through the House State Government Committee and, potentially, the House floor. That will have to wait until at least Monday, House Speaker Greg Stumbo said.
Stumbo said a delay was needed to give House staff more time to double-check population numbers.
“We don’t have the plan all together yet. We don’t have the plan all together and verified as to the numbers — to make sure the numbers fit all the … federal requirements,” he said.
But other House leaders confirmed to Pure Politics that the Eastern Kentucky portion of the map is still in flux.
“It’s not finished yet,” said Rep. Rocky Adkins, the Democratic Floor Leader who lives in Catlettsburg and hails from Elliott County. The new district he will be put into is one of the ones that’s not completely nailed down yet, he said.
It might include Elliott County or it might not, as Stumbo suggested last week .
“I’m very hopeful that Elliott County will remain in that district,” Adkins said. “That’s where I lived for most of my life.”
However, Adkins new district is likely to contain Carter County, where Republican Rep. Jill York lives.
“I would say that it’s a fairly safe bet that those two will be against each other because there’s really no other way to do it up there,” Stumbo said.
Adkins also confirmed that just like last year’s version of the redistricting map, he and York will “more than likely” be pitted against each other.
What’s less certain is whether freshman Rep. Toby Herald, a Republican from Breathitt County, will be drawn into the same district ad veteran Democratic Rep. John Will Stacy of Morgan County.
And what happens with those two is one of the many ways continued tinkering with the Eastern Kentucky portion of the map is affecting other areas.
The Central Kentucky portion of the map is the region most affected by whatever comes out of the Eastern Kentucky region.
At this point, it looks to add one new district without an incumbent and two other districts that straddle Eastern and Central Kentucky.
One of those is the 72nd District represented by Rep. Sannie Overly, the Democratic Caucus Chair who lives in Bourbon County. That district currently stretches from the northeastern corner of Fayette County through Bourbon, Nicholas and Bath County.
Another one that has been drawn in pencil several different ways, depending on what happens in the East, is the 70th District represented by Rep. Mike Denham of Maysville. That district currently has Bracken, Mason and Fleming County but might have to spread east to pick up Lewis County or potentially south to add Bath County.
Or Bath County could end up in the 74th District that Rep. Richard Henderson of Montgomery County represents.
That would shift Powell County from the 74th into a potential new district that would also include part of Madison County and Estill County, Overly confirmed. Estill is currently one of the three counties in the 91st District represented by Herald — the freshman who could be pitted against Stacy.
There wouldn’t likely be another new district created in the Central Kentucky region, Overly said. Last year’s version created a new district in southern Fayette County.
Scott County, which was among those that added the most residents in the last decade, will be carved up into at least three districts. Most of it will be covered by the 62nd District currently represented by Rep. Ryan Quarles, R-Georgetown. The 78th District represented by Rep. Tom McKee, D-Cynthia, could bleed in from the east and several precincts in the southern part of Scott County could end up in the 56th District represented by Rep. Carl Rollins, D-Midway, several lawmakers said.
And it’s still likely that Jessamine County would be split at least by Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, who will keep part of Fayette County and all of Nicholasville, and Republican Rep. Kim King, whose 55th District will spread east from Mercer County into western and northern Jessamine County.
Republican House members are, by far, the majority in the region. So they submitted two versions of a suggested map to House leadership.
It’s an area that has seen sharp growth in Boone and Kenton counties particularly, leaving Rep. Sal Santoro, R-Florence, with the most populous district in the state. The 60th District he represents currently has nearly 62,000 constituents, according to the 2010 Census. That’s about 19,000 more than the ideal district should have.
Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger and the chairman of the Northern Kentucky caucus, said the Republicans’ suggested map would shed some Boone County precincts to the 61st District that was just won by Rep. Brian Linder of Dry Ridge. That district would keep Owen and Grant counties but give Gallatin County to the 47th District represented by Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford. Rand told Pure Politics last week he expected to pick up Gallatin County and lose the precincts he currently represents in northern Oldham County.
Koenig represents the 63rd District, which currently looks like a horseshoe. He said it would pick up more precincts in Boone County and shed the Campbell County precincts.
Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, said last week that the version of the map he saw was similar to last year’s version when it came to Campbell and Kenton counties. He said he and Rep. Arnold Simpson, D-Covington — the only two Democrat representing the big three Northern Kentucky counties — were satisfied with how the districts in Democrat-heavy precincts were divvied up.
The Louisville area caucus pretty much stuck with last year’s version, said Rep. Larry Clark, the Speaker Pro Tem from Louisville.
Last year’s version added a new district in the eastern Jefferson County suburbs. Otherwise, it kept most incumbents’ districts largely in tact, including those containing Republican Reps. Bob DeWeese, Julie Raque Adams, Ron Crimm and Kevin Bratcher.
For the purposes of drawing the district map, the western region caucus includes lawmakers as far east as Nelson, Taylor and Monroe counties.
But lawmakers are keeping extra quiet about what’s happening with the potential map in that huge swath of the state.
Neither Stumbo nor Rep. Jody Richards — the former House Speaker from Bowling Green — would say whether Republican Reps. Jim DeCesare of southern Warren County and C.B. Embry of Butler County would be drawn into the same district as they were in last year’s attempted redistricting map.
“I can neither confirm nor deny,” Richards said.
And he wouldn’t say whether a new district would be created in the suburb counties closer to Louisville, such as Bullitt or Hardin counties — two of the fastest growing counties in Kentucky. He said the map isn’t finished because of the potential ripple effect from the Eastern Kentucky portion.
“Some of it’s finished but not complete,” he said smiling broadly.
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