Kansas GOP’s redistricting plan targets Rep. Sharice Davids
Kansas Republicans on Tuesday unveiled a proposal to redraw the state’s congressional district boundaries that would give them a substantially better chance at winning all four of the state’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives by carving up the state’s largest county.
The proposal, introduced by state Rep. Chris Croft (R), would imperil Rep. Sharice Davids (D), who won a district that includes most of the Kansas City metropolitan area in the 2018 midterm elections.
Davids’s 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.
Croft’s map would divide Wyandotte County, home of Kansas City, into two districts along Interstate 70, giving 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 metro area.
About two-thirds of the vote in Miami and Franklin counties went to former President Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Trump won more than three-quarters of the vote in Anderson County. Wyandotte County favored President Biden by a 2-to-1 margin.
Croft, who heads the state House Redistricting Committee and who lives in Davids’s district in Overland Park, said he had not considered partisan outcomes when he crafted the mapping proposals. But the lines will almost certainly disadvantage Davids, the first Democrat to represent part of the Sunflower State in Congress since the late Rep. Dennis Moore (D) retired in 2010.
In a statement, Davids’s campaign spokeswoman declined to address the new district lines.
“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,” the spokeswoman, Ellie Turner, said in an email.
Kansas did not gain or lose seats in this decade’s round of reapportionment based on the 2020 U.S. census. But those figures showed that the population growth in the last decade has come disproportionately in the Kansas City area. Davids’s district would need to lose about 44,000 people to come into line with the state’s other three heavily Republican districts.
State Senate Republicans endorsed the map splitting Davids’s district. Senate President Ty Masterson (R) said the population growth in the Kansas City area meant it would be impossible to keep all of Wyandotte and Johnson counties together.
To win approval, the map must pass the heavily Republican legislature. Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, has the power to veto the proposal, but Republicans control a supermajority that could overrule her if the GOP stays united.
But 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.
Separate map proposals introduced by state Rep. Tom Burroughs, the top Democrat on the redistricting committee, would keep both Wyandotte and Johnson together. That map, which would likely make Davids’s district competitive if not safe for the Democratic incumbent, faces a steep disadvantage in the GOP-dominated legislature.
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