Missouri House overrides Nixon redistricting veto

JEFFERSON CITY | Four Democrats joined 105 Republicans to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of a new congressional map for the state of Missouri.

The vote all but assures the map will become law, cementing in place boundaries for eight new congressional districts.

The map still must win a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate, but that vote is widely seen as a fait accompli given the Republican super majority in the chamber and support beyond that from Kansas City Democrats.

The Senate reconvenes at 3 p.m. this afternoon, and could take a vote shortly thereafter.

The drama was most definitely in the House.

In previous votes, three Democrats had joined the Republican majority. But the two-thirds majority needed to override Nixon’s veto required 109 votes — all 105 Republicans and four Democrats.

That final vote turned out to be Rep. Jonas Hughes, the Kansas City Democrat who has had perhaps the wildest legislative session in recent memory.

He cast the deciding vote on Wednesday morning despite an intense lobbying effort on the House floor by fellow Democrats. Afterward, with tears streaming down his face and staining the shoulder of his suitcoat, he retreated to the members-only lounge behind the chamber, refusing to meet with reporters.

In a brief exchange, he said only that he voted yes “Because my congressman asked me to.”

Democrats, who hold small minorities in both chambers, have largely opposed the map because it likely assures six safely Republican districts against just two safely Democratic ones.

The map includes eight seats rather than the current nine, a consequence of Missouri’s slow population growth over the last decade relative to the rest of the country. The seat eliminated belongs to incumbent Democrat Russ Carnahan, of St. Louis.

Some Democrats on the western side of the state also objected to the contours of the 5th Congressional District held by Democrat Emanuel Cleaver. His district will now stretch eastward to include three rural counties.

Cleaver apparently approves of this, but the lawmakers who represent those counties say it will leave them effectively unrepresented, as Cleaver and subsequent lawmakers will focus entirely on the urban and suburban areas of the district.

If House members has rejected the veto override and failed to pass a new map before the session ended, the map would have been drawn by a court.

Read more: