Stumbo pounces on error in GOP’s map; Republicans mull options as new districts pass

01/13/2012 07:10 AM

The new state House district map approved by lawmakers Thursday sets the stage for six new open seats and pits potentially as many as 11 incumbents against each other in this year’s elections.

Most of those incumbents affected are sitting Republican legislators, as previously reported. .

But lawmakers approved the map 63-34 with five Republicans joining with the Democrats to vote for it.

The redrawing of the 100 House districts also sparked one of the more passionate House floor debates. House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, stepped down from his speaker’s chair to lead the Democrats’ response to Republicans counter proposal map.

Stumbo, in full country-lawyer mode, criticized the map presented by Rep. Joe Fischer, R-Fort Thomas, because as it was drawn it would violate the Federal Voting Rights Act by removing precincts with a heavy Hispanic population from the 77th District in Lexington.

Here is the full exchange between Stumbo and Fischer, who successfully brought a lawsuit against the constitutionality of the House redistricting map after the 1990 U.S. Census:

The five Republicans who voted for the map with 58 Democrats were:

  • Rep. Kevin Bratcher, whose southern Jefferson County district (the 29th) changed very little
  • Rep. Dwight Butler of Harned, whose 18th district currently snakes from outside Owensboro to the Louisville suburbs in Bullitt County and stretches for more than 100 miles. His new 18th District now just includes Hancock and Breckinridge counties and western Hardin County.
  • Rep. Tim Couch of Hyden, whose 90th district continues to include Clay and Leslie counties and traded part of Harlan County for eastern Laurel County — a more reliably Republican area.
  • Rep. Jim Stewart of Flat Lick, whose 86th district remains Knox and part of southern Laurel County.
  • Rep. Steven Rudy of West Paducah, who could easily have been drawn into the same district with Rep. Brent Housman of Paducah in the 3rd District. But the two were spared a primary.

Housman did not vote on the bill.

Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover criticized the Democratic-drawn map and said that he was “disappointed.”

He said he was approached about working together on other issues, including whether to allow the University of Pikeville to become a public university. And he implied that he might have a hard time doing that after this redistricting fight.

Hoover said after the vote that he and other Republicans will look at potentially challenging the map in court.

Stumbo said he thought the map would hold up because it only breaks up six counties that are below the minimum number of constituents for a House District.

(Those six that are divided are Trigg, Lawrence, Lewis, Letcher, Harlan and Mercer counties).

The new open seats created by the map are:

  • 10th District in eastern Jefferson County
  • 19th District in Grayson and part of Hardin counties
  • 21st District in eastern Warren County
  • 53rd District in Hart, Green and Metcalfe counties
  • 55th District in Anderson and northern Mercer counties
  • 96th District in southern Lexington

- Video and reporting from Frankfort by Nick Storm; analysis by Ryan Alessi


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