Wyandotte County resident Connie Brown Collins says new congressional boundaries passed by the state Senate appear to “literally cut through backyards” of several diverse communities.
Republicans in the Legislature have fast-tracked an effort to redraw congressional districts in a way that would divide the Kansas City metro area along Interstate 70.
As a result, Brown Collins said during a news conference Monday at the Statehouse, 39,000 Latino residents and 30,000 Black residents would be relocated from the 3rd District, the only one in Kansas currently represented by a Democrat, and into the 2nd District. This “population shuffle,” Brown Collins said, will decrease the voting power of a majority-minority vote.
“If legislators think we in Wyandotte County are snoozing through this travesty, that we are not aware or we do not care, think again,” Brown Collins said. “You have awakened a sleeping lion.”
Kansans for Fair Maps, a coalition of advocacy groups, organized the news conference to elevate the voices of residents in the Kansas City metro area who are upset about the proposed new map. They spoke in front of the Brown v. Board mural on the third floor, a tribute to the landmark civil rights case that ended segregation in public schools.
Senate and House redistricting panels introduced the Ad Astra map favored by Republicans during a hearing last week and heard overwhelming opposition in testimony. The Senate panel proceeded to pass a version of the map that corrected the oversight of splitting the Kickapoo Indian reservation between districts. On Friday, the full Senate endorsed Ad Astra 2.
The House panel held additional hearings Monday.
“The House process is still ongoing. It has been fair, deliberate and transparent,” the House Republican leadership said in a statement for this story. ” We look forward to seeing the results of the committee’s work.”
Under current lines drawn by courts a decade ago, the 3rd District currently includes the Kansas City metro area that sprawls across Wyandotte and Johnson county. U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, a Democrat, American Indian, and the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress from Kansas, won election there in 2018 and retained the seat in 2020.
Republicans redrew her district to eliminate Democrats’ votes in the northern half of Wyandotte County and move Republican strongholds from Anderson, Miami and Franklin counties into the district.
“The way this map is drawn really diminishes her chance of being reelected,” said Tom Witt, of Equality Kansas. “The voters chose her, and they chose her twice. And now Senate leadership is trying to choose different voters for her. I don’t know how the rest of you grew up, but I grew up in America where democracy matters.”
Thomas Alonzo said he has lived in Wyandotte County his entire life, except for when he served in the military. He said his Kansas City, Kansas, community’s interests are deeply tied to their neighbors to the south.
The Ad Astra map “demonstrates a lack of competent, moral and ethical leadership,” Alonzo said.
“There is nothing democratic or patriotic about deliberately cutting up a district to prevent its voters from having the ability to select individuals to represent us that will protect our interests,” Alonzo said.
Liz Meitl lives in Johnson County and works for the Kansas City, Kansas, public school district in Wyandotte County. She said there are thousands of others who work in one county and live in the other. Their lives are interconnected, she said.
“When you divide us by congressional districts, you are creating schisms, unnatural schisms that both perpetuate racist and systemic institutionalized inequalities and perpetuate a system in which the elites disenfranchise voters,” Meitl said.
Senate Republican leaders have dismissed concerns about the way the map affects the voting power of Democrats and communities of color. The map also moves heavily Democratic Lawrence from the 2nd District to the rural 1st District.
Senate President Ty Masterson, R-Andover, said all four members of congress would retain their seats based on 2020 election results, although Witt said that claim hasn’t been verified since underlying data was made available late Thursday.
“On balance,” Senate Republicans said in explaining their vote, “this map will serve the state well for the next decade.”
Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: email@example.com. Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.
Newt Gingrich complaint came 1 day before deadline for his longtime aide to comply with Jan. 6 committee: report
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) blasted Congress one day before a longtime aide was required to turn over documents to the House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol.
"Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's controversial weekend comment that the House January 6 Committee investigators could face jail time themselves if Republicans take over Congress came about two weeks after the panel subpoenaed his longtime former aide who also co-authored a book with him," Business Insider reported Tuesday.
The select committee gave Ross Worthington until Jan. 24 to turn over documents and scheduled him for a Feb. 2 deposition.
Gingrich and Worthington co-wrote the book, Breakout : Pioneers of the Future, Prison Guards of the Past, and the Epic Battle That Will Decide America's Fate.
"Worthington served as a research director and lead writer for the media and communications firm Gingrich Productions before joining Trump's transition team that helped him prep for the White House in late 2016 and early 2017," Business Insider reported, noting Worthington had previously served as deputy communications direction for Gingrich's unsuccessful 2012 presidential campaign."
Read the full report.
Ross Worthington is tremendous writer and policy developer who has been big part of Gingrich Productions.He will be great in the White House— Newt Gingrich (@Newt Gingrich) 1483654571
Officer Goodman speaks out — says he was 'playing it safe' because people attacked Michael Fanone in public
Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman is speaking out for the first time after he was revealed to have been responsible for saving the lives of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) along with many senators and the vice president.
Speaking to the 3 Brothers No Sense podcast on Tuesday, Goodman explained that he hasn't spoken out until now because he wanted to "play it safe" after hearing about some public incidents from colleagues, the Daily Beast reported.
"I just don’t want any part of the negativity," he said. Other colleagues like Michael Fanone have become the target of Republicans and conservative media hosts.
"He’s said he’s out with his daughter, and he’s had random people run up and throw drinks in his face, and stuff like that," Goodman said.
Since the attack, many conservatives have tried to blame House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying that she didn't order the National Guard to the Capitol on Jan. 6 ahead of time. While the Guard was requested they were a few miles from the building as the rally was at the Ellipse. No one knew that former President Donald Trump would call for the crowd to march to the Capitol.
Having the military on hand with their weapons could mean those breaching the Capitol would likely have been shot. Given the weapons with the insurrectionists, it could have become a firefight in the middle of an urban area.
“It could have easily been a bloodbath, so kudos to everybody there that showed a measure of restraint with regards to deadly force, because it could have been bad. Really, really bad," Goodman said. He credits his military training for quick thinking, saying that his old U.S. Army platoon sergeant told them, "figure it out or die."
Recalling what it was like on that day over a year ago, co-host Byron Evans said he was on-duty during the attack.
"I was on the Senate floor thinking I was going to have my first shootout at work,” Evans said. “And because of what he did, that did not have to occur. He is a real-life hero."
Goodman doesn't see himself that way, noting he asks himself daily "who the hell am I? I’m day-to-day with that. I have my ups and down with the popularity."
He said that the social media "Eugene Goodman Day" was "way too much," as was the idea of a statue of him.
"That’s just one more thing for a bird to prop up and take a dump on me,” he explained.
After he was asked to escort Vice President Kamala Harris to the inauguration, Goodman said that his colleagues have stared calling him "Gucci."
IN OTHER NEWS: Jen Psaki reminds Peter Doocy of Trump's Twitter tantrums after he whines about 'hashtag' diplomacy
Jen Psaki reminds Peter Doocy of Trump's Twitter tantrums after he whines about 'hashtag' diplomacy www.youtube.com