TOPEKA — The Kansas House ratified action of their brethren in the Kansas Senate to complete Wednesday an override of Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of the congressional redistricting map designed by the Republican legislators to undercut viability of Democratic candidates.
The GOP-controlled House cobbled together by 85-37 margin for a two-thirds majority necessary to thwart the governor’s veto of the map known as Ad Astra 2.
The Senate initiated the override process Monday, but fell short of votes. On reconsideration Tuesday, Senate leadership produced a 27-11 margin to deflect Kelly’s objections to a map splitting the 3rd District held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids. It would move Wyandotte County Democrats into the 2nd District and transfer the moderate stronghold of Lawrence from the 2nd District to the 1st District.
The fundamental idea is to weaken Davids sufficiently for a GOP nominee to prevail, but not alter the balance of power in the two nearby districts enough to matter.
“Ad Astra 2 is a good map,” said Rep. Chris Croft, an Overland Park Republican and chair of the House’s redistricting committee.
Initially, the GOP struggled to deliver the minimum 83 votes required by the constitution. There was a “call of the House,” in which the doors were locked and nine absent representatives were summoned to the floor. The missing included six Republicans and three Democrats.
Rep. Tom Burroughs, D-Kansas City, Kansas, said the congressional map placing Wyandotte County north of Interstate 70 into the 2nd District held by Republican U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner shattered a People of Color-majority community.
By one count, the move would deposit half the Hispanic population and one-third of Black residents in Wyandotte County into the agrarian 1st District stretching beyond the Capitol in Topeka, the Flint Hills of central Kansas to the feedlots of Garden City about 380 miles away. The heavily Republican Big First is represented by GOP U.S. Rep. Tracey Mann.
“When you divide communities of color, you take away a voice,” Burroughs said. “The subliminal message is your voices don’t matter. Your very existence and contribution to the community and to the state process don’t matter.”
He also said it was his hope the judicial branch eventually finds the state’s congressional map unconstitutional.
The Legislature also is responsible for crafting new maps for the 125-member House and 40-member Senate as well as boundaries of the 10 Kansas State Board of Education districts.
In 2012, conflict over the maps in the Legislature led to drawing of the boundaries by a three-judge panel in U.S. District Court.
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