How Much Should Kansas, Missouri Republicans Cheat In Redistricting: *Mostly*, Or *All Of It*?
The original 'Gerry-Mander' cartoon, 1812. Via WBUR

The national Republican obsession with restricting democracy grinds forward this week. In Kansas, a lawsuit over the GOP-drawn redistricting maps that give Republicans a built-in electoral advantage will go to trial next week. Next door in Missouri, which hasn't even completed the pre-lawsuit stage of redistricting this year, the deadline for candidates to file for this year's August primary elections was Tuesday, but those candidates aren't entirely sure where they'll be actually running, since the state House rejected a redistricting map the Senate had passed last week.

The AP notes that Missouri is one of just a handful of states that hasn't finished redistricting, although you might want to wash that hand. Florida's Legislature and governor are both Republican, but they haven't yet agreed how to screw minority voters out of representation. In New Hampshire, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) has pledged he'll veto the GOP-led Legislature's redistricting maps. And in Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards has already vetoed the redistricting plan the Republicans passed in the state Lege.

Kansas Lawsuit: GOP Bias Out The Wazoo

In Kansas, a trial will begin Monday over the redistricting map drawn by the Republican state Legislature; the plaintiffs argue that the new districts violate the state constitution by discriminating against minority voters and giving a built-in advantage to Republicans. Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, had vetoed the map in February, but the Republican-dominated Legislature overrode the veto.

One of the most glaring changes is that, for the first time in 40 years, Wyandotte County, which includes Kansas City (the Kansas One), will be split up between two districts, which has the convenient effect (for Republicans) of also carving up minority communities that have tended to vote for Democrats. In another fun move, the map moves Lawrence into a solidly Republican district, where Lawrence's Democratic-leaning voters will have considerably less influence in elections.

The new map will also make reelection more difficult for Rep. Sharice Davids (D), one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress, by slicing away a large chunk of Kansas City, where her support is strongest, and moving it into another district. Davids is the only Democrat among Kansas's four US House members.

The Kansas City Star reports that expert witnesses for the plaintiffs have prepared reports arguing that the Kansas map gives Republicans an "extreme, disproportionate advantage" and that

the division of Black and Hispanic voters across the Kansas City metro area 3rd District and the eastern Kansas 2nd District has reduced or eliminated the ability of minority voters to elect candidates of their choice in either district.

“On this plan, Republicans are likely to win nearly all of the congressional elections over the next decade while only winning 57-59% of the votes in Kansas,” wrote Christopher Warshaw, an associate professor of political science at George Washington University.

Another of the experts, University of Michigan political science prof Jowei Chen, wrote that the Legislature's map

goes “beyond any ‘natural’ level of electoral bias” caused by state’s political geography or the political composition of the state’s voters. Nearly 99% of computer simulations Chen ran using non-partisan, traditional redistricting criteria created fewer Republican-leaning districts than the map passed by lawmakers.

Needless to say, Republican legislators, some of whom have been subpoenaed to testify in the trial, insist that the maps are fair and unbiased and that in creating the new districts they simply acted based on the wishes of Kansas voters, who obviously want Republican bias or they wouldn't have elected a Republican majority in the Legislature, jeez that's only logic.

Earlier this week, the lawsuit survived a legal challenge brought by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office, which sought to dismiss the case under the creative legal theory that the US Constitution forbids courts from addressing gerrymandering. Wyandotte County District Court Judge Bill Klapper wasn't impressed, saying that doing things that way would give legislators “unfettered and unchecked power” in redistricting. Well yes, because something something republic not a democracy.

Missouri: Who The Fuck Even Knows?

As we noted up top, the Missouri Legislature's inability to agree on how exactly to gerrymander the state has now led to a mess affecting this year's elections. As the AP explained Tuesday, it really does come down to a fight among extremist factions, not that the AP puts it so crudely or accurately:

Although the House passed a redistricting plan in January, Senate Republicans stalled for months amid internal divisions over how aggressively to gerrymander the map to their favor. The Senate finally passed a plan Thursday, but because of the changes, it needs House approval to go to Republican Gov. Mike Parson.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the state House hadn't done anything to pass that map, and as of right now, that still seems to be the case. Instead of simply voting to approve the Senate version, the House instead voted to send the map to a conference committee with the Senate to iron out the differences. That's being complicated by the Senate's conservative caucus, which said Wednesday that it would block any attempt at negotiating with the House, because ain't nobody in the Republican Party of Donald Trump pure enough, as far as we can tell.

The Missouri Independent explains that mainstream extremist Republicans are willing to gerrymander the map so that six of the state's eight congressional districts would give the GOP an advantage, allowing two Democratic districts. But the conservative caucus extremist extremists are holding out for a plan that would give Republicans seven districts and Democrats only one. The map the Senate approved last week has two districts that favor Democrats, five that heavily favor Republicans, and one district that leans Republican but might conceivably be contested. That seat, in the Second District, is currently held by Rep. Ann Wagner (R).

Democrats, not that they matter, keep pointing out that in 2020, the actual split in voting statewide only gave the GOP a 60-40 advantage, so maybe that should be reflected in congressional districts. How charming their naive appeal to "fairness" and "representative democracy" is!

Despite nobody knowing what the final map will look like — the AP notes that if no new map is drawn, the existing 2010 maps will be used — 62 candidates have filed for congressional primaries that will take place in August, somewhere. Among them is Democratic state Senator Steven Roberts, who filed to run against the wonderful incumbent Democratic Rep. Cori Bush. He sounds like a real piece of work.

“We all had the highest hopes for Congresswoman Bush but she’s shown over the past year and a half that she’s not interested in the job of United States Representative,” Roberts said in a news release after filing.

Roberts brings baggage to the race in the form of accusations made in 2016 by the late Cora Faith Walker that he had sexually assaulted her. The Intercept reported last week that Roberts’ Wikipedia page has been edited repeatedly, by someone with a state government IP address, to remove references to the accusations.

Roberts has denied making the edits.

Well no thank you, Cori Bush seems pretty good. Christ on a Vespa, Missouri, what is it with your "Democrats"?

[Kansas City Star / Indian Country Today / WDAF-TV / Missouri Independent / AP / Missouri Independent / Illustration: WBUR]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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