State Watch

Kansas legislature overrides governor’s veto on new House maps

Kansas House Republicans voted Wednesday to force new U.S. House district maps into law, overriding Gov. Laura Kelly’s (D) veto by a narrow margin in a move likely to cost Democrats a seat in Congress.

The House vote came a day after the state Senate also voted to override Kelly’s veto.

Republicans got off to a rough start Monday, when the state Senate fell a few votes short of mustering the necessary supermajority to implement the new maps, though they cajoled a few recalcitrant senators into changing their votes on Tuesday. By Wednesday, House Republicans mustered 85 votes to override the veto, one more than the 84 they needed to do so.

The new maps will make substantial changes to district lines in Wyandotte County, the state’s largest and home of Kansas City.

Currently, Wyandotte County makes up most of a district held by Rep. Sharice Davids (D), the lone Democrat to represent the state in Congress. The new map would divide Wyandotte County along Interstate 70, relocating a substantial number of Davids’s current constituents into a neighboring district held by Rep. Jake LaTurner (R).

Davids’s district would move south and east, picking up parts of Miami County and all of Franklin and Anderson counties — all three conservative bastions that former President Trump carried easily in 2020.

Davids, first elected in the 2018 midterm elections, would be forced to run for a third term in a district that leans toward Republicans, though one that might not be completely out of reach for Democrats, assuming a favorable political environment.

Kelly, who faces reelection herself this year, said the Republican-drawn maps went too far in dividing minority populations centered in the Kansas City metro area. In a statement released when she vetoed the maps last week, the governor said they raised “constitutional issues” in dividing communities of interest.

Davids has not addressed her political fortunes in recent weeks. Last month, when legislative Republicans released their proposed maps, 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.

Tags 2022 elections 2022 midterms Donald Trump Jake LaTurner Kansas Laura Kelly Redistricting maps Sharice Davids
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