WKU Public Radio News Staff
Thu January 19, 2012
Senate Republicans return the favor and present state redistricting plan unfavorable to Democrats
The other shoe in the redistricting battle has fallen, this time in the state Senate. Republicans control the chamber and have decided to put five incumbent Democratic senators into tough re-election fights.
That chamber passed House Bill 1 with it's new Senate districts on a near-party line vote Wednesday. It includes the new House and judicial maps and could be signed into law by Thursday afternoon.
Four senators will have to face each other in primaries to keep their seats, including Perry Clark and Denise Harper-Angel of Louisville. Two other senators—Dorsey Ridley and Jerry Rhoads—will have to run against each other in 2014.
The most severely affected Senator is Kathy Stein of Lexington, whose district was moved to Northeast Kentucky. That leaves Stein without a seat for at least two years.
In response, Stein says Frankfort has lost its focus.
“I believe what has happened here in Frankfort in both of these chambers in the past several days shows how utterly political we’ve become," Stein says. "And we forget the interest of the citizens we represent.”
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives already passed their new redistricting maps, which were unfavorable to Republicans—one district includes three current Republican representatives.
The Senate map splits five counties and puts the following incumbents into districts together:
6th District: Democratic Sens. Dorsey Ridley and Jerry Rhoads.
16th District: Republican Sen. David Williams and retiring Sen. Vernie McGaha
25th District: Republican Sen. Robert Stivers and Democratic Sen. Walter Blevins
35th District: Democratic Sens. Perry Clark and Denise Harper-Angel
36th District: Retiring Sen. Tim Shaughnessy and Republican Sen. Julie Denton.
The map leaves four open seats: The 19th District, The 13th District, the 37th District and the 15th District.
And Democratic senators aren’t happy with the Senate plan.
“Very political and very devastating," said Senator Walter Blevins. "[It] tries to be devastating to the Senate Democrats as much as [Republicans] can. Making me run against the Majority Floor Leader, a Republican district of course. We talked about that. And also putting my good friends Perry Clark and Denise Harper Angel having to run against each other in a senate district. And what they’ve done to Kathy, I mean they just basically eliminated her for two years.”
And another senator, Tim Shaughnessy of Louisville, claims Senate President David Williams called for payback for Louisville senators after losing the governor's race last year. Williams denies the accusations, saying he wasn't involved at all in drawing legislative lines in Louisville.
The Senate's map of Kentucky's six U.S. House districts is much different than the map that passed the state House, meaning a conference committee will be required to hammer out the final plan.