Friday, June 8, 2012

Kobach says noon Monday deadline stands for candidate filing; politicians scrambling in wake of new maps

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

TOPEKA — The state's chief election official said Friday that the deadline for candidates to file for state and federal office will not change and that he will not appeal the new political maps.

Candidates have until noon Monday to file for office in the wake of new political boundaries handed down late Thursday by a panel of three federal judges.

"We have an unprecedented situation with the way these maps were drawn," Secretary of State Kris Kobach said in an interview with the Lawrence Journal-World.

But Kobach said the Aug. 7 primary can still be held on schedule.

"Right now, we are doubtless seeing many incumbent legislators and many potential candidates across the state scrambling to make a decision by noon on Monday as to whether they will run and exactly what they will do," Kobach said.

The federal judges re-drew congressional, legislative and State Board of Education maps after the Legislature failed to accomplish that job during the recently completed 2012 session.

The judges' maps for state House and state Senate show the most dramatic changes.

Nearly 50 incumbent House members in the 125-member House are paired up in districts, and 25 districts have no incumbent living there. The 40-member Senate has eight incumbents paired up and four districts with no incumbent.

"This illustrates what happens in a judicially drawn map versus a legislatively drawn map," Kobach said. "The court showed very little deference to keeping incumbents in separate districts," he said.

Kobach said a lot of candidates are going to have make decisions this weekend. Some incumbents may drop out rather than face another incumbent, some may withdraw from a House race and seek a Senate seat, and some may move their residence to another district.

"We know that a lot is going to happen between now and noon on Monday," he said.

Kobach said any other plaintiff or intervener in the redistricting lawsuit could appeal the three-judge panel's maps to the U.S. Supreme Court. But, he said, because the district size population deviations are small the appeal may not be successful.

Kobach praised the panel for drawing the district lines promptly, but criticized the work product, saying "it is a pretty disruptive map."

He said he couldn't speculate on whether the maps benefit one party more, or conservative or moderates within the Kansas Republican Party. "We may not know until November," after the general election, he said.