Senate approves 'compromise' congressional district map after panel rejects Thayer's version

02/10/2012 09:37 AM

(UPDATED WITH MAP DETAILS) — A coalition of Senate Republican leaders and Senate Democrats rejected a last-ditch effort by Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, to pass a map to keep Central Kentucky’s 6th District more competitive for Republicans and instead passed a compromise version hammered out last week.

The full Senate later approved by a 29-7 vote the so-called compromise map that had received the thumbs up from incumbent members of Congress, including Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of Somerset, Republican U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green and Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler of Versailles whose districts were most affected by changes.

The new version moves Garrard, Boyle and Mercer counties plus part of Jessamine County to the 2nd District from the 6th District.

The Senate state government committee approved that map Friday morning by a vote of 8-3.

Thayer, the Senate state government committee chairman, called it “an affront to the Bluegrass region.” Thayer repeatedly said it was the first time in his seven years chairing the Senate state government committee that he had opposed a bill that was passed by the chamber.

He was joined in his opposition to the map by Republican Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr of Lexington, who said she wanted to title the approved map the “Ben Chandler lifetime employment act.” She said the combination of counties that were shed from the district and the addition of Democratic-leaning counties in the east such as Fleming, Bath and Wolfe counties, make it tough for a Republican challenger.

“We are making this a completely Democratic district,” she said.

GOP Sen. Jimmy Higdon of Lebanon also voted against the approved map in committee.

Republican Sen. Tom Jensen of London said “where we were all headed with all other maps was court.”

Jensen and Senate Republican Floor Leader Robert Stivers and GOP Caucus Chairman Dan Seum voted with four Democrats on the committee for the prevailing map and against Thayer’s proposal, which would have moved Estill, Powell and part of Montgomery County from the 6th to 5th Disstrict and added the rest of Scott County and half of Harrison to the 6th.

Sen. John Schickel of Union voted in favor of both maps.

If approved, the filing deadline for congressional candidates will be extended until five business days after the governor signs the bill.

The changes the map would make to the existing district are as follows:

- 1st District in western Kentucky (needed to gain population): Adds Marion and Taylor counties as well as a few precincts in the southeastern corner of Washington County as well as the northern Ohio County so that it now contains that entire county. Loses Butler County to the 2nd District and the southern part of Lincoln County to the 5th District.

- 2nd District in west-central Kentucky (needed to lose population): Adds Mercer, Boyle and Garrard counties plus the western part of Jessamine County from the 6th District and Butler County from the 1st District. Loses Shelby and northern Spencer County to the 4th District, Marion and Taylor counties to the 2nd District and the southern tip of Jefferson County goes into the 3rd District.

- 3rd District that covers most of Jefferson County (population was nearly right): Picks up the southern part of Jefferson County from the 2nd District and loses the conservative eastern precincts to the 4th District.

- 4th District in northern Kentucky (needed to lose population): Adds Shelby County and northern Spencer County from the 2nd District and eastern Jefferson County from the 3rd. Loses northern Scott County and southeastern Harrison County as well as Robertson, Nicholas, Fleming and Bath counties to the 6th District. Also loses Carter and Elliott counties and southern Boyd County to the 5th District.

- 5th District in eastern Kentucky (needed to gain population): Adds southern Boyd County plus Carter and Elliott counties from the 4th District and Lincoln County, which had been split between the 1st and 6th Districts. Loses Wolfe, Menifee and southern Bath County to the 6th.

- 6th District in central Kentucky (needed to gain population): Adds northern Scott County southeastern Harrison County as well as Robertson, Nicholas and Fleming counties from the 4th, as well as Bath County, which had been split between the 5th and 4th Districts. Also picks up Menifee and Wolfe counties from the 5th. Loses Mercer, Boyle and Garrard counties plus the western part of Jessamine County to the 2nd and northern Lincoln County to the 5th.

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