A House committee has approved a congressional map that puts part of Wyandotte County in the 1st District, which covers western Kansas.
House Speaker Mike O'Neal, a Republican from Hutchinson, says lawmakers had to add a community to the 1st to equalize population between the four districts. He says the other options included moving Manhattan or part of Shawnee County into the Big First.
“Every map that we do ends up disappointing somebody because in order to get down to a deviation of zero, you end up splitting a county or a city,” says O’Neal.
The map, drafted by O'Neal, would put voters in the Kansas City area with voters from rural western Kansas. The plan passed out of committee on a 12-11 vote, with O'Neal breaking the tie. The top Democrat in the House, Paul Davis of Lawrence, calls the proposal gerrymandering.
“It is a map that is purely drawn to help the four existing Congressional incumbents get re-elected for as they want,” says Davis.
Speaker O'Neal defended the map, saying he did not take politics into account. He says he wanted to keep Manhattan in the 2nd Congressional District, instead of moving it to the 1st. The full House will now consider the proposal.