Though it looked like congressional redistricting would go to the courts, since the legislature couldn’t reach a compromise, that will no longer be the case. A wild morning full of emotions and accusations lead to the passage of House Bill 302, which will now go in the books and finalize the boundaries for congressional districts in Kentucky.
Though an agreement appeared to be reached a week ago, it was nixed at the last minute by central Kentuckian Republicans, particularly Sen. Damon Thayer and 6th District congressional candidate Andy Barr, who got Tea Partiers from their area to flood Republican senators with calls telling them not to agree to it. While the deal reached eased the concerns of Republicans in other districts, it does give Chandler a slightly more favorable district than what he previously had. In nixing the deal, several Republicans were quite liberal in expressing their anger at Barr for sabotaging it (particularly Tom Jensen).
However, this morning, the Senate redistricting committee brought forth a vote on a compromise bill, which passed 8-3, with four Republicans voting for it. Thayer expressed outrage that they would DARE pass a bill he wasn’t in favor of, saying that such an act had never happened. Alice Forgy Kerr of Lexington voted against it, calling it the “Ben Chandler Lifetime Employment Act.”
Once it got to the full Senate for a vote, both Thayer and Kerr said the bill was practically an assault on central Kentucky and its “cultural heritage.” Kerr spoke about Henry Clay and “white men” devising the plan, leaving their colleagues scratching their heads.
Sen. Kathy Stein rose to speak on the bill, saying that listening to Thayer and Kerr made her feel like her head was going to spin around like Linda Blair in “The Exorcist.” She wondered how those two — who literally voted to disenfranchise over 100,000 Lexingtonians in their state Senate redistricting bill — could have the nerve to display such hypocrisy on the rights of those in central Kentucky. She noted for Kerr that Henry Clay, who lived in downtown Lexington, would have been disenfranchised by the bill that she voted for, so she might want to think twice about name-dropping him.
In the end, Senate Republicans overwhelmingly voted for the bill, giving it a bipartisan send off to the House with a 27-9 vote.
The bill will be passed easily by the House in a matter of minutes, to be signed by Gov. Beshear.
The filing deadline under the bill will be moved back to next Friday.
Here is the map, via Kentucky Public Radio.
More on how this effects the 6th District race between Chandler and Barr to come…
*** UPDATE ***
We just did a quick estimate of how the 2010 race between Ben Chandler and Andy Barr would have went with the new 6th district lines that were just passed. Chandler won that year by about 647 votes.
Under the new map, the district loses Boyle, Garrard, Lincon and Mercer Counties, all of which Chandler lost (by a margin of around 3,200 votes). The 6th also loses the western part of Jessamine, where Barr won heavily.
The 6th picks up Menifee, Wolfe, Roberston, Nicholas, Bath and Fleming counties, which are Democratic counties that Conway won by about 2,000 votes over Rand Paul.
This means that it is safe to estimate that with these boundaries, Chandler would have won by over 6,000 votes in 2010, instead of a squeaker.
Kerr called this the “Ben Chandler Lifetime Employment Act”. I don’t know if that’s true, but this certainly doesn’t bode well for Andy Barr this year.