State Watch

Kansas governor vetoes proposed redistricting map

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) on Thursday vetoed a proposed redistricting map that was passed by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature.

Kelly said in a statement that the proposed map, state Senate Bill 355, does not follow guidelines established by the Kansas legislature and courts and “provides no justification for deviation from those guidelines.”

She specifically noted that the map divides Black and Hispanic populations in Wyandotte County, home of Kansas City, and communities of interest in the eastern portion of the state, as well as reducing the strength of communities of interest in the western portion.

“​​Several alternatives would allow for the same deviation as [the proposed map] while protecting the core of the existing congressional districts and without diluting minority communities’ voting strength,” Kelly said.

“I am ready to work with the Legislature in a bipartisan fashion to pass a new congressional map that addresses the constitutional issues in Senate Bill 355. Together, we can come to a consensus and pass a compromise that empowers all people of Kansas,” she added.

The map passed by the state’s GOP-controlled legislature would give Republicans a substantially better chance to win all four of the state’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

It would particularly imperil Rep. Sharice Davids (D), whose district currently includes all of Wyandotte and Johnson counties, two of only five counties in all of Kansas that President Biden carried in the 2020 election.

The map would give a substantial number of Davids’s current constituents to neighboring Rep. Jake LaTurner (R). In exchange, Davids’s district would pick up parts of conservative Miami County and all of Franklin and Anderson counties, south and west of the Kansas City metro area.

Davids’s campaign declined to respond to the proposed redistricting map when it was unveiled last month. 

“Rep. Davids remains focused on representing the people of the Kansas Third in Congress, working to lower costs for families and ensure everyone is included in our economic recovery from the pandemic,” Davids’s campaign spokeswoman, Ellie Turner, stated at the time.

Republicans control a supermajority in the legislature that could overrule Kelly’s veto if the GOP stays united.

If they do, however, Democrats would almost certainly sue, because Wyandotte County is the only one in Kansas where non-Hispanic whites do not make up a majority of the population. Federal judges ordered Wyandotte County condensed into one congressional district in 1982.

Tags Jake LaTurner Joe Biden Kansas Laura Kelly Redistricting redistricting map Sharice Davids

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