Missouri redistricting plan speeds toward Senate debate
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A proposal to redraw Missouri’s eight U.S. House districts is speeding toward an expected divisive debate in the state Senate, where some conservative Republicans want to further bend the district boundaries to their advantage.
A Senate committee on Tuesday advanced a congressional redistricting plan that had passed the House just last week. Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden said he plans to bring the measure up for debate Wednesday.
Missouri currently is represented in the U.S. House by six Republicans and two Democrats whose districts are based in St. Louis and Kansas City. All states must redraw their congressional districts to account for population changes noted by the 2020 census, so that each new district has the same number of people.
A redistricting plan backed by Republican legislative leaders is projected to keep a 6-2 Republican edge in the congressional delegation, with the suburban St. Louis district of GOP Rep. Ann Wagner remaining the closest thing to a swing district.
Some conservative Republicans are instead pushing for a map that could yield a 7-1 Republican edge by splitting up the Kansas City-area district of Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver and merging its urban residents with Republican-leaning voters from rural areas.
Several conservative activists testified in support of a more aggressively Republican map during Tuesday’s committee hearing, asserting it would help the anti-abortion movement and was justified as part of a national political battle for control of Congress. They noted that Democrats and Republicans in power in some other states also have been gerrymandering districts to their favor.
Senate Redistricting Committee Chairman Mike Bernskoetter said he took the unusual step of hearing testimony and voting on a bill on the same day because he wanted to get it quickly to the full Senate. The bill advanced on a 9-5 vote, gaining the support of seven Republicans and two Democrats. It was opposed by three Republicans and two Democrats.
Candidate filing for this year’s August primary election is to begin Feb. 22.
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