TOPEKA, (KSNT)— Kansas’ only Democrat seat in Congress could be up for grabs, as lawmakers kick off plans to redraw maps this year.
Lawmakers in the state House and Senate met Wednesday to adopt guidelines for redistricting in the state, and discuss plans to draw new lines to decide how votes are counted in Kansas. The process is led by Republicans, who hold a supermajority in the state’s Legislature.
Chair of the House Redistricting committee, Rep. Chris Croft, R-Overland Park, emphasized plans to draw fair maps, during a critical election year.
“We know the numbers are the numbers right, and I think I’ve said before, it’s a math problem with a lot of emotion and we’re trying to balance those things as we go through there,” Croft said.
However, the new lines could shift the political sphere in Kansas.
Some democrats are keeping an eye on whether Republicans will take back the state’s one democratic seat under Representative Sharice Davids, and solidify their place as the only party representing the state in Congress.
“Of course I will be watching out for those kinds of things, but honestly, I think it’s best for us to begin with an optimistic spirit,” committee member, Rep. Stephanie Clayton, D-Overland Park, said.
Davids represents the Kansas City area, which leans blue. Now that her district is overpopulated, there are concerns of gerrymandering; Republicans having an incentive to set new lines and hurt Davids politically.
Rep. Clayton told Kansas Capitol Bureau those efforts will most likely play out in the Senate’s redistricting meetings.
“The Senate, they’re not up on the ballot next year, so I think they have more opportunity to be political. They might get a little sketch. They might get a little squirrely,” Clayton said.
Republicans have the power to override the governor’s veto of any final proposals. But, in the end, the supreme court will have to approve those final maps.
Ten years ago, the supreme court decided how to draw the lines when lawmakers ran into roadblocks making a final decision. Still, lawmakers are hopeful that this year they’ll be able to reach an agreement.
“That’s what this whole process is about, to talk about the whole thing, and make sure we see the second, third order effects of what things are being drawn,” Croft said.
The House Redistricting Committee plans to meet Tuesday, Jan. 18, at noon, to go over some proposals for congressional maps.