TOPEKA – Positioning for an increasingly likely court fight over redistricting, a Senate committee passed Senate district maps today that are unlikely to make it through both houses of the Legislature.
The Senate Reapportionment Committee, having had its original Senate map rebuffed in the more conservative House, passed three new district maps for consideration by the full Senate. All three maps draw conservative challengers out of the districts of moderate incumbents they want to challenge.
The three new maps, called "Buffalo 20," "Buffalo 30" and "Buffalo 40," all would create a new Senate seat in Johnson County, which has grown by in the last 10 years more than 90,000 voters – about 20,000 more than the average population of a Senate district.
Each of the three maps also creates a district where incumbent senators would have to run against each other:
• The Buffalo 20 map would set a head-to-head match for the 40th District between Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer, R-Grinnell, and Sen. Allen Schmidt, D-Hays.
• Buffalo 30 would match Abrams against Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover.
• Buffalo 40 would match Schmidt against Senate Minority Leader Jay Emler, R-Emporia.
In Sedgwick County, any of the three maps would draw Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, out of the 25th District where Landwehr wants to challenge incumbent Sen. Jean Schodorf.
They also separate incumbent Sen. Carolyn McGinn from her prospective opponent, Wichita businessman Gary Mason.
The original Senate-passed map, called "Ad Astra Revised" had been amended on the Senate floor to put Landwehr in Schodorf's district and Rep. Greg Smith, R-Overland Park, in the district where he wants to challenge Sen. Tim Owens, R-Overland Park.
The new maps also draw Smith out of Owens' district.
Owens, the chairman of the Senate Reapportionment Committee, said the Senate had originally amended its district map to put Landwehr and Smith in the districts they wanted.
"We gave them a map that put them in and none of them voted for it," Owens said.
Landwehr said the new maps are "unrealistic" and split communities of interest.
"They're ignoring the rules that were set out by the committee and ignoring federal law," Landwehr said.