In the state of Kansas, the state legislature is tasked with the redrawing legislative districts of both the House and Senate after the Census each decade. This includes both the state and federal levels. Like many states, the governor has veto power over a potential redistricting plan. However, in Kansas, the state legislature is dominated by a Republican veto-proof majority in both houses, meaning that regardless of Governor Laura Kelly’s veto, they can push a potentially indecent redistricting plan for constitutional examination to the Kansas Supreme Court.
The Census is done to ensure that every person (notice I did not say citizen) is represented appropriately in both state legislatures and Congress. Republicans in the Kansas legislature have absolutely no desire to appropriately represent Kansans. According to the Kansas City Star, Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle told a group of Wichita Republicans, aptly named the Pachyderm Club, that she desired a veto-proof majority to oust any Democratic representatives from both the Kansas legislature and Congress. Currently, Kansas’s Congressional delegation includes one Democrat and three Republicans.
“I guarantee you (the Pachyderm Club), we can draw four Republican congressional maps,” Wagle said. It should be noted that Wagle will no longer be in government but her plans to oust any Democratic representation like that of District-3’s Sharice Davids are the plans of the Kansas GOP. Like those in Congressional races (Senator-elect Roger Marshall and representative-elect Jake LaTurner), Kansas Republicans can’t win on their own policies so all they do is lie and gerrymander their way to majorities. During the Senate race, Marshall ran ads stating that his opponent Kansas Senator Barbara Bollier was a liberal extremist. Bollier was a Republican until two years ago. If she is a liberal extremist then so is Nancy Pelosi (hint: she’s not either). Jake LaTurner ran ads against Topeka mayor Michelle de la Isla saying she wanted to “defund the police.” De la Isla increased the police budget of Topeka during her tenure as mayor. It’s these shady tactics that define the Republican Party of Kansas. It’s the far-right attitudes of Sam Brownback that are still plaguing our great state.
Governor Kelly responded to these seditious ideas by proposing a non-partisan redistricting commission. This is the only way that Kansans can be assured that the Kansas Republican Party will not deliberately misrepresent their interests in legislative districts. This commission should include political scientists, sociologists, and geographers who operate on objective data and robust survey data to ensure that Kansans are accurately represented based on economic, racial and cultural values. However, the Kansas State Constitution decrees that the state legislature will have the power to redraw districts and such a commission would only have an advisory role and not a political one. Additionally, with the veto-proof majority, it is wholly unlikely that any such commission will be formed.
The Kansas House Redistricting Committee will be chaired by Olathe representative Chris Croft, an extremely conservative politician endorsed with a 96.6-percent by practically Libertarian thinktank the Kansas Policy Institute on matters of “small government, individual liberty, and school choice.” This will only spell doom for Kansas legislative and Congressional districts. Fortunately, the redrawing of districts will not affect any recently elected representatives such as Davids but it could be disaster come midterm elections in 2022.
It is always somewhat amusing that Kansas Republicans are so concerned with individual liberties and small government but apparently it’s the government’s job to decide how people are grouped together, even if said grouping has no basis in reality. It’s almost like the phrase “small government” is merely a shield for them to put up when things aren’t going their way.