Kansas Republicans and Democrats face a nightmare weekend as they react to dramatically changed maps for the state legislature.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach says he won't appeal the new maps, handed down late Thursday, and knows of no other legal challenges to them. And he says he has no authority to move Monday's noon filing deadline or the state's August primary, so dozens of campaign decisions have to be reached over the weekend.
"It's probably the most disruptive redistricting in Kansas history," Kobach said Friday.
There are 25 open House seats, fully 20% of that branch of the legislature. Forty-six incumbent members have been tossed into potential races with other incumbents (not counting the spouse of the late Bob Bethell.)
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Kansas law requires filers to "reside" in the district they wish to represent at the time of filing. That means the political parties mush work all weekend to find candidates for the open seats, and/or convince incumbents to establish residence in the new open districts before Monday at noon.
Kobach said he did not know what would happen if no one files for office in a district.
"This really is uncharted waters," Kobach said. "So many districts without any incumbents, and so many incumbents pitted against each other. It'll be a very exciting day on Monday."
And he said the legislature bears some of the blame for the last-minute confusion. It was unable to draft legislative maps throughout the 2012 session, leaving the courts to the task.
"Given what was happened, the way the lines have been so drastically altered, I don't think ten years from now the legislature is going to make the same mistake," he said.