Thayer explains his thinking behind congressional map, including changes to 6th District

11/29/2011 06:22 PM

Republican state Sen. Damon Thayer’s map would move all of his home county of Scott in the the 6th congressional district — one of several moves that would make that slightly more favorable for a GOP candidate.

Thayer said on Pure Politics Tuesday that he “barely looked” at voter registration of constituents in the districts when drawing it up.

He also said he didn’t take into account the affect the changes might have on the 2012 race between Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler of Versailles and Republican Andy Barr of Lexington — a rematch of the 2010 contest Chandler won by just 648 votes.

“That was not a consideration when I drew the map. I was trying to keep the 6th District as compact as possible,” he said (4:50).

Find out whether Thayer is eying an eventual run for the 6th congressional district himself (5:40 of the video).

As for his home county, Thayer said many of his neighbors were tired of being divided between the 6th and 4th Districts. More than 6,000 residents in the northern part of the county were included in the 4th, which is represented by U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis, R-Hebron. And about 42,000 Scott County residents fell in Chandler’s 6th District.

“My constituents in Scott County made it pretty clear to me that they would like Scott County not to be split. They’d like to be all in one district, and preferably all in the 6th District. Scott County has very strong ties to Lexington. So that is a significant change,” Thayer said (2:15 of the video).

Jefferson County must be split because it has more than the 723,228 target number for congressional districts.

But Thayer’s map would split three other counties: Montgomery County (between 6th and 5th), Wayne County (between 1st and 5th) and Bath County (which remains split between the 5th and 4th Districts as it is now).

When asked why that trio would have to straddle two different districts and not Scott, Thayer said, “We’ve done our time, so to speak, as a split county.”

Thayer’s map is the second to be released by state lawmakers. Earlier this month, Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo unveiled his proposal. Stumbo made major changes, including moving Daviess County from the 2nd to the 1st District.

“I think that is the major chip, along with Boyd County,” Thayer said. (7:25)

Lawmakers also must craft new state Senate and House districts. But Thayer said Senate Republicans are still “working through some issues” and aren’t finished drawing their map.

One of those issues includes whether any other incumbents decide not to seek re-election as 23rd District Sen. Jack Westwood, a Republican, has. Another Republican, Sen. Vernie McGaha of Russell Springs told Pure Politics last week that he is 50-50 about running for a fifth term next year.

He said he “would think” a new Senate map will become public before the end of December.

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