JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Nearly everyone who testified against the proposed congressional map Monday afternoon was a representative of the city of Richmond, a town of about 6,000 in Ray County that is split between the 4th and 6th congressional districts in the current proposal.
However, most of the fireworks during the Special Committee on Redistricting hearing Monday came when Susan Klein, the executive director of Missouri Right to Life, testified her organization would only support a map drawn 7-1 in favor of Republicans.
Aside from the Richmond residents, the opposition has largely stemmed from a conservative cohort, which includes Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, who prefer a 7-1 map. However, Republican leaders in both chambers have indicated the proposed 6-2 map — which is what the current proposal indicates — is the way to go.
Several House Republicans on the Special Committee on Redistricting pushed back on the 7-1 map when Klein brought it up Monday afternoon — especially with the lower chamber lacking a supermajority of Republicans who could greenlight an emergency clause.
GOP Rep. Dan Shaul, who chairs the committee, said he is not confident a 7-1 map would survive the Senate or a trial before the Supreme Court of Missouri.
“There’s many, many moving pieces, and we as representatives have to do a risk assessment,” Shaul said. “Is it worth the risk for the reward?”
“If this goes to the courts, what could the result be for the cause? I think that’s a very important question to ask because I think in just about every scenario I’ve tried to play out in my mind about a 7-1 map, it seems to me that we lose, and we can be in a worse situation for the cause of pro-life by doing that,” Rep. Ben Baker said. “That gives me concern in trying to make this decision and make the right decision when it comes to this map.”
And GOP Rep. Shamed Dogan also criticized her testimony for potentially ostracizing pro-life Democrats from the cause. He said, “Being pro-life is not the same as being a Republican.”
Klein said she remained positive a 7-1 map would be successful with a Republican governor who could call a concurrent special session and a Republican attorney general who would defend it in court.
House Republicans on the committee did not share her optimism.
Strain in the Senate continues with map drawing
With tension among Senate Republicans already percolating, it’s no surprise conservatives and Republican leadership appear split on the map as well.
“When I think about redistricting, it’s not to represent the Republican Party; it’s to represent and reflect the state of Missouri as a whole,” Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden told reporters last week. “I think the flaw in some of the messaging from folks who prefer a 7-1 map, including the secretary of state, is just a tremendous lack of awareness of how to get something through this chamber or basically just taking advantage of the fact that the general public doesn’t know anything about this process.”
Members of the Senate Conservative Caucus have vociferously pushed for a 7-1 map on social media in recent weeks.
“We should not appease Democrat special interests aligned with [President Joe Biden] and give away seats in Congress,” said Sen. Bill Eigel last week.
Sens. Bob Onder and Denny Hoskins have suggested the proposed map would eventually lead to a 5-3 Republican majority in Congress, losing a seat to Democrats.
More map details
HB 2117 is off to a quick start in the Missouri Legislature with a faster than expected hearing in the lower chamber Monday. Shaul said committee members have until Tuesday evening to submit amendments to the proposed map, and he plans to exec it out of committee Wednesday morning.
The proposed map further compacts the 5th congressional district in Kansas City, Independence, and Lee’s Summit. It moves Pulaski County, which contains Fort Leanord Wood, to the 8th district. The 7th district got smaller, and Jefferson County moved to the 3rd and out of the 8th.
Shaul said the 8th congressional district needed to grow “significantly” with about 50,000 people.
The counties that are split in the new map are:
Camden between CD 3, CD 4, and CD 8
Clay between CD 5 and CD 6
Jackson between CD 5 and CD 6
Ray between CD 4 and CD 6
St. Charles between CD 2 and CD 3
St. Louis between CD 1 and CD 2
Taney between CD 7 and CD 8
In a recent interview, Gov. Mike Parson said he would let the legislature work on the maps before becoming involved in the process.
“Hopefully they come up with some maps that they can agree on,” Parson told The Missouri Times. “We’ll just see what they come up with, and how that plays out. There’s a process, and it just needs to go through the process.”
House Majority Floor Leader Dean Plocher discussed redistricting on a recent episode of “This Week in Missouri Politics.”
“My goal is just to do what’s best for Missouri, to pass [a map] that makes sense,” Plocher said. “It should also be, what can we do to make Missouri better so we get back some districts? What do we do to grow Missouri?”
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at email@example.com.