WKU Public Radio News Staff
Wed January 11, 2012
Democratic redistricting plan pits many GOP incumbents against each other
By Kenny Colston
Frankfort, Ky – A plan to redraw all 100 Kentucky House districts is being pegged as unfair to Republicans because it forces up to nine GOP incumbents to run against each other.
The plan cleared the State Government Committee today despite complaints from Republicans.
The new districts would put the following legislators into campaigns against each other:
9th District: Republican Reps. Myron Dossett and Ben Waided
17th District: Republican Reps. Jim DeCesare, C.B. Embry and Michael Meredith
54 District: Republican Reps. Mike Harmon and Kim King
99th District: Democratic Rep. Rocky Adkins and Republican Rep. Jill York
And depending on the outcome of a special election for District 53 the former seat of Agriculture Commissioner James Comer there could be another Republican-on-Republican campaign, because House Leader Jeff Hoover is drawn into part of that district.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo defends the lines. He says politics did not play a role, only population shifts and judicial mandates.
"In this plan there are some incumbents that are affected, both Democrats and Republicans," Stumbo says. "There are six open seats, which you'll find primarily in growth areas or areas that surround the areas where the population shift has occurred."
Two of those open seats are definite Republicans pickups. One is in far eastern Jefferson County and the other is in Northern Kentucky. Fayette County will host a new district as well.
But those potential pick-ups aren't enough to blunt the redistricting pain the House leadership is putting the Republican minority in, Hoover says. Mainly because those seats had to be created due to population shifts.
"Quite frankly, I believe the Democrats are political cowards," Hoover says. "I understand redistricting is part of the legislative function, part of the political process, but their actions here in this redistricting show exactly why people are losing credibility and faith in government."
Republicans are hoping to bring their own map into play through a floor amendment. And Hoover did not rule out a possible legal challenge to the Democrats' map.
The House hopes to pass the new maps off their chamber floor on Thursday.