It's deja vu in the House with redistricting madness

02/20/2013 05:36 PM

The House’s latest attempt at redrawing the district maps sounds a lot like last year’s attempt — a lot of grumbling behind the scenes and some incumbents who will be pitted against each other.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, confirmed Wednesday that the Eastern Kentucky caucus finally had settled on a plan to redraw their districts — a proposal that would pit two incumbents against each other in two different districts. Now all that’s left is the Central Kentucky caucus to recommend a way to re-draw the districts in its region, Stumbo said.

Lawmakers have to start over with the maps after the Supreme Court tossed out the Senate and House because they split up too many counties and each had a district that contained too many people. The Senate is waiting to draw its map until the 2014 session. But House leaders wanted to get redistricting out of the way this year.

Like last year, the geographic blocs of House Democrats are recommending ways to cut up the districts. And also like last year, House Republicans say they’re out of the loop and are only hearing rumors of what the House Democrats want to do.

The latest draft the Eastern Kentucky Democrats approved would put Republican Rep. Jill York, R-Grayson, against House Democratic Leader Rocky Adkins. The map the House approved last year also placed those two against each other .

In addition, the proposed map would pit freshman Republican Rep. Toby Herald of Beattyville against Rep. John Will Stacy, D-West Liberty.

It also would create a new district that covers Elliott, Lewis and Rowan counties. Adkins used to live in Sandy Hook in Elliott County but now resides in southwestern Boyd County, Stumbo said.

The Eastern Kentucky part of the map has presented a particular challenge, as Adkins told Pure Politics on Friday because the region lost population and is full of incumbents, particularly Democrats in the far eastern part.

In Western Kentucky, districts outside Bowling Green again are the pressure points. In last year’s draft, House leaders combined the home areas of Republican Reps. Jim DeCesare, Rockfield, C.B. Embry of Morgantown and Michael Meredith of Brownsville.

As for the Central Kentucky part of the map, Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, said the last draft he saw would move Harrodsburg Republican Rep. Kim King’s 55th District into southern Jessamine County. Damron would represent the Nicholasville portion of Jessamine County and Republican Rep. Stan Lee’s southern Lexington district also could spread into northern Jessamine County.

Damron said the difficulty is that, according to the court’s ruling, the House map can divide only two counties across the state that have fewer than the ideal population of about 42,000 constituents. That means the more-populated counties are usually considerably carved up.

“In Fayette County, for instance, it probably costs it having another Fayette countian” representative, Damron said. “But maybe more representatives overall who have a piece of Fayette County in their district.”


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