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Redistricting sucks.
The new house district plan


(Clinton KY – Jan. 26, 2012) - House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover filed a lawsuit in Franklin Circuit Court today protesting implementation of House Bill 1 – the legislative redistricting bill. Hoover and his attorney, Jason Nemes, want the court to enter an injunction staying candidates from filing for office by the deadline this coming Tuesday.

Good for them.

Not that I am a fan of turning over legislative functions to the courts. I am not.

But the sort of horse trading that goes every ten years when the census numbers come out has got to stop.  Redistricting is a political football game that has more to do with putting points on a board, settling scores, feathering one’s nest and protecting one’s backfield than it has to do with geography, population and lines on a map. In this age of computer programs, GPS and algorithmic calculations, there has to be a better way.

Voters around the state haven’t yet woken up to what this latest round of redistricting will do to them come election time. By May, it will be too late.  Many will find themselves learning new district numbers and meeting their new representatives for the first time.

House leadership moves the deck chairs around.

Redistricting House #1 has given back bencher Steven Rudy more Republican precincts in Paducah, making him unbeatable by a Democrat. The traditionally Democratic rural river counties of Fulton, Hickman, Carlisle and Ballard have no voice in the Democratic House. Rudy, a genial hail fellow well met, attends meetings and warms a chair. He sponsors around one bill a year. So far this year his one bill has to do with the motorized chairs sold on television being on the streets and roads. It will go where his other bills go. Nowhere.

The river counties have little or nothing in common with regional magnet Paducah. An economy centered around medicine, commerce and the Ohio River makes McCracken County sets McCracken apart from surrounding areas. Counties that depend on soybeans, chicken farms, and social security checks

While Rudy benefited from gaining more Republican leaning McCracken precincts, the Dems should see a pick up in the 3rd House District because incumbent, Republican Brent Housman is not running again. Paducah City Councilman Gerald Watkins, a Democrat, has already filed for the seat. No one on the GOP side has stepped up yet.

The new Ky senate map

Kentucky Senate redistricting– a lesson in tectonic upheaval 

Redistricting the Purchase on the senatorial side gave Carlisle County to independent (in name only ) Bob Leeper.  Leeper chairs the powerful Senate A & R Committee - which must burn up the GOP Senate faithful.

Carlisle with a population of 5100, is the poster child of rural Kentucky. The county has only two highways, no direct access to interstates or parkways, one town that serves as the county seat and an economy geared entirely toward agriculture. The county’s Democratic tendencies are slipping toward the right as GOP influence grows.

What Carlisle Countians will discover when they go to the polls is that neither a Democrat nor a Republican has been able to defeat Leeper. His McCracken base has bulldozed over opponents in the last two election cycles.  The candidate who came closest to defeating him was Carroll Hubbard in 2006 when Leeper eked out a victory over Hubbard of just 58 votes. The presence of a GOP contender, Neil Archer, pulled almost 6800 votes away from the two top finishers.

Hubbard has since moved to Mayfield has already filed to run for the 1st Senate seat held by Ken Winters. Hubbard is looking for a rematch of the 2008 senate race. Winters beat Hubbard by a margin of under 4000 votes.  Redistricting the First Senate seat took Carlisle away from Hubbard, where he narrowly defeated Winters. It gives Winters Livingston County, which was in Dorsey Ridley’s 4th District in 2008 with registration running 4-1 in favor of the Democrats. 

At this writing, Winters has not filed to run again. The deadline is Tuesday, January 31st – unless an injunction is issued in the Hoover case. There have been whispers that Winters will not refile – but he has said publicly that it is his plan to run again.

Where oh where did the 4th Senate District go?

What would be hilarious if it were not so sad is where the 4th Senatorial District wound up.  It seems that the 4th migrated eastward and to the city while the good folks of that district weren’t looking.

In 2008, Sen. Dorsey Ridley (D) represented Livingston, Caldwell, Crittenden, Union and Webster Counties. He was unopposed in his 2006 election bid and cakewalked back to the Senate. He’s up for re-election. The problem is that he doesn’t live in his district anymore.

Livingston County went to the 1st Senate District. Caldwell, Crittenden and Union are now in the 3rd Senate District.  Webster County has moved to the 6th Senate District.

Where’s the 4th?  It’s now in the middle of Lexington. (See map). 

With the redrawing of lines, Sen. President is getting rid of several thorns in his side – Dorsey Ridley who lives in Henderson now resides in Democrat Jerry Rhoads’ district. Outspoken, feisty Senator Kathy Stein’s 13th went from Lexington to eastern Kentucky.

Senator Walter Blevins, a Democrat who lives in Morehead, Rowan County, in far eastern Kentucky, saw his 27th district go westward ho. He now is listed as representing Warren, Allen, Simpson, Logan, Muhlenberg, and Simpson Counties.

We watched Blevins put up a cogent argument last session why a balanced budget amendment proposed by newly elected Senator Rand Paul won’t work for Kentucky. Apparently the Senate President is less than pleased with spirited debate.

Redistricting in the House was all about keeping the balance of power.

Redistricting in the Senate was the night of long knives. 

What we have to wonder is – why haven’t the Democrats filed suit? (Editor's Update- they joined the suit in progress)

….And while we are in the wondering mode - Why did Governor Beshear sign into law legislation that clearly strengthens the hold that Sen. David Williams has on the Kentucky Senate without a peep or a cheep?

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