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Kelly seeks non-partisan redistricting commission after Kansas Supreme Court upholds GOP

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly is reiterating her calls for a non-partisan commission on redistricting after the Kansas Supreme Court upheld a GOP-drawn congressional map that split racially-diverse Wyandotte County in half.

“While the outcome of today’s Supreme Court decision is disappointing, I respect the Court’s ruling,” Kelly said in a statement Wednesday.

This decision should not discourage Kansans from making their voices heard in the electoral process. I also call on legislative leaders from both parties to work together to ensure that future redistricting processes are transparent and empower Kansans to hold their elected leaders accountable.”

The decision released Wednesday means Wyandotte County, a Democratic stronghold, will be split between two districts— with the northern half almost certainly represented by a Republican and the south included in a reshaped 3rd District that incumbent Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids will struggle to hold.

Lawrence, a left-leaning college town, will be combined with western Kansas in the deep-red 1st District.

Democrats had challenged the map, arguing it diluted the vote of racial minorities in Wyandotte County and constituted a political gerrymander.

Kelly’s carefully worded statement contrasts sharply with other Democrats who slammed the court and the map.

Sen. David Haley, a Kansas City Democrat, called the decision partisan and evidence of “unawareness to the rule of law” on the court.

House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer, a Wichita Democrat, immediately called for legislative action.

“The decision regarding Congressional maps opens a pandora’s box for even worse political gerrymandering in the future,” Sawyer said in a statement. “This decision makes clear it’s time for an amendment that clarifies gerrymandering is unconstitutional and prohibited in the state.”

©2022 The Kansas City Star. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Katie Bernard, The Kansas City Star. May 18, 2022

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