Kentucky lawmakers have broken their stalemate over congressional redistricting, passing a bill which redraws the boundaries of the state’s six districts.
“This is redistricting gone wild,” said Senator Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, one of seven Republicans to vote no in a 29-7 decision in the Kentucky Senate.
Buford said the deal was gerrymandering to help the state’s five incumbent U.S. Representatives. “We just gave them a free seat to Congress,” claimed Buford. “The election is over."
But, the broker of the compromise said it keeps the dispute over congressional redistricting out of the courts. "It's our plan, we haven't abrogated our responsibility to anybody,” Senator Tom Jensen, R-London, said.
"This is a plan that's not about one Congressman, nor is it even about six Congressmen,” said Senator R.J. Palmer, D-Winchester, the minority floor leader. “This is the plan that shows that this process can work."
The new lines shift central Kentucky’s 6th Congressional district, currently served by Democrat Ben Chandler, northeastward. The shift moves part of Jessamine County out of the Bluegrass into the 2nd district, which is currently served by a Republican from Bowling Green, Brett Guthrie. Mercer, Garrard and Boyle Counties are also slid into the 2nd.
"We decimated the Bluegrass area as we know it,” said Senator Alice Kerr, R-Lexington. She was one of four GOP Senators from central Kentucky to vote against the new map.
"Ben Chandler's fingerprints are all over this map,” claimed Senator Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown.
"The Ben Chandler life time employment act,” Kerr said.
“I think he is afraid of his liberal, pro Obama, pro Pelosi voting record and he wants some different counties to make his case to,” said Thayer.
Chandler issued a statement late Friday calling passage of the bill “good news,” noting the new map “passed with bi-partisan support.”
Republican Andy Barr, who lost to Chandler in a close race two years ago and is, seeking the GOP nomination to challenge the Congressman again, claimed in a statement that Chandler cut “a backroom deal.”
In the Kentucky House the compromise passed by a two to one margin. "We have been done wrong,” said Rep. Lonnie Napier, R-Lancaster, about his home county of Garrard County being shifted into a new district.
"Garrard County, Jessamine County have been treated like second class varmints,” Napier said to hoots and hollers in the House chamber.
“It appears we've turned our allegiance to Congress rather than the taxpayers,” said Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington.
The filing deadline for Kentucky’s six congressional seats was Tuesday, but the compromise agreement reopens the filing window for five days. Some lawmakers claimed that could open up the law to a challenge in court.