...you have to do it yourself. That's the lesson from the redistricting snafu that went on this year in the Kansas State legislature (which has been Republican-controlled for a long time). There was an ongoing battle between the very conservative wing of the Kansas Republican Party and the moderate wing. The moderate wing (which, along with Democratic support, control the State Senate) wanted to maintain districts that kept communities of interest together as well as helping to stave off right-wing primary challenges to their incumbents (GOP Senator Owens spearheaded this effort) while the conservative wing (which controls the State House) wanted to gerrymander all of the maps to promote right-wing challenges and ensure that it's nearly impossible for Democrats to win any Congressional districts for the decade (even going to the length of breaking the tradition that each chamber of the legislature draws its own map and not the other's). One major proposal involved drawing a Congressional district that drew Kansas City in the same district as Dodge City! The result was redistricting plans flying right and left and getting voted down, neither side willing to budge. They finally hit the deadline for action when May ended and it was tossed up to the court system to work out.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas heard all testimony, but disposed of all proposed maps and instead opted to draw all districts from scratch. It was a big undertaking (especially consider that the filing deadline was June 11), but on June 8th, the court released new maps for the State House, State Senate, the Congress, and the State Board of Education. The court issued their opinion along with the maps where they admonished the legislature for political brinksmanship. The maps they released were done with little to no considerations for political and incumbent advantage. As a result, many districts were incumbent-less or had more than one incumbent drawn into the same district together.
What I was eager to know is how the new districts affect legislative races and where Democrats are competitive as well as key primaries that could topple or secure the moderate majority. I decided to focus on the State Senate as there are much less districts to analyze than the State House and it's also where the future of Kansas hinges the most on. I drew up the new Kansas State Senate map in Dave's Redistricting App and will take on the task of analyzing any race of significant interest in this diary.
More below the fold.
I would like to start by thanking users David Nir, ptgkc, eztempo, Statusquomustgo, and CF of Aus for providing some help on understanding the political situation of Kansas. Also please note that I will use the race ranking "Race To Watch" to mark a Senate race that is likely competitive, but will have to be watched further to see how it develops. "Republican/Democrat Favored" replaces the usual "Likely Republican/Democrat" as the word "likely" seems to too often make some district seem out of reach for the other party and I don't have a complete grasp of the politics of Kansas and how the local parties perform.Here's the old State Senate map for comparison:
Now here's a statewide view of the new Kansas State Senate districts:
Let's start with the largest districts (area-wise) that are easily visible here.
SD-40 (firebrick): Senators Allen Schmidt (D) and Ralph Ostmeyer (R)
Challenger(s): John Miller (R)
24.9% Obama - 73.4% McCain
Senator Schmidt of Hays saw his home district drawn out of his SD-36 and into the new SD-40 with Senator Ostmeyer. This is not a district you'd expect could elect a Democrat, but you'd be surprised. SD-36 was a few points less Republican, but had Senator Janis Lee (D) for 22 years. Schmidt was appointed by the Dem caucus in February 2011 to replace her after she resigned to take a position as the chief hearing officer of the Kansas Court of Tax Appeals. Although I think the Republican has the edge, I think it is likely competitive as his home county (Ellis) is, by a significant margin, the most populated of the the counties here. Furthermore, in the 2002 and 2006 Gubernatorial races, Gov. Sebelius won 5 and 6 of the districts 13 counties, respectively (including winning by double digits in Ellis and Trego County).
Race To Watch
SD-39 (moccasin): Senator Stephen Morris (R)
Challenger(s): Rep. Larry Powell (R)
24.7% Obama - 74.0% McCain
Senate President Morris is one of the targeted moderate Republicans. The Kansas Chamber of Commerce is leading the effort, and I hope for the sake of Kansans, that Morris is not taking this for granted.
SD-36 (orange): No Incumbent
Challenger(s): Marquis Clark (D), Kyle Abbott (R), Rep. Elaine Bowers (R)
23.7% Obama - 74.4% McCain
This rural district is wide open due to redistricting, but I don't know anything about the candidates here.
SD-38 (medium aquamarine): Senator Garrett Love (R)
Challenger(s): Johnny Dunlap (D)
28.3% Obama - 70.2% McCain; VAP: 55.7% White, 39.2% Hispanic
This district contains Liberal and Dodge City. There is a strong Hispanic presence in both towns and it is the only real reason why there are any precincts in this district that voted for Obama at all. In fact, if you account for total population, this district is only 49.0% White. The only county that Sebelius won here is Ford County (Dodge City), but it was by a plurality both times.
SD-33 (royal blue): Senator Ruth Teichman (R)
Challenger(s): Rep. Mitch Holmes (R)
25.8% Obama - 72.2% McCain
From what I can tell, this is probably not a conservative vs. moderate battle.
SD-32 (orange-red): Senator Steve Abrams (R)
Challenger(s): Miranda Allen (R)
32.8% Obama - 65.1% McCain
Although Sebelius seems to have narrowly won in this district in 2002 and 2006, I don't think there's a Dem bench to speak of.
SD-34 (lime-green): Senator Terry Bruce (R)
36.3% Obama - 61.8% McCain
The bluish city of Hutchinson is strongly counterbalanced.
Challenger(s): Mark Treaster (D)
SD-35 (dark orchid): Senator Jay Emler (R)
Challenger(s): Jesse Bryant (R)
30.5% Obama - 67.7% McCain
Nothing to see here, not even a moderate vs. conservative battle.
SD-24 (indigo): Senator Pete Brungardt (R)
Challenger(s): Rep. Tom Arpke (R), Janice Norlin (D)
34.1% Obama - 64.0% McCain
This Salina-based district has a conservative vs. moderate challenge. This district lost all of Ottawa County for more Dickinson County, but I'm not sure if that helps or hurts the moderate Brungardt.
SD-17 (dark slate-blue): Senator Jeff Longbine (R)
Challenger(s): Susan Moran (D), Rep. James Fawcett (R)
43.9% Obama -54.2% McCain
This district became much less rural and Republican by shrinking some and taking in Junction City. The numbers aren't that promising, but I would not rule out an upset.
SD-14 (olive): No Incumbent
Challenger(s): Eden Fuson (D), Rep. John Grange (R), Rep. Forrest Knox (R)
30.1% Obama - 68.0% McCain
An incumbent-less rural district.
SD-15 (dark orange): Senators Jeff King (R) and Dwayne Umbarger (R)
35.6% Obama - 62.4% McCain
Senator Umbarger was forced to leave SD-14 and to run here due to redistricting. It appears this district is more Umbarger's so I give him the advantage.
SD-13 (dark salmon): Senator Bob Marshall (R)
Challenger(s): Gene Garman (D), Jacob LaTurner (R)
43.7% Obama - 54.2% McCain
This district contains all of Crawford County, the least of the three counties Obama carried in Kansas in 2008. So I would not rule out an upset.
SD-12 (cornflower blue): No Incumbent
Challenger(s): Rep. Caryn Tyson (R), John Coen (R), Denise Cassells (D)
36.2% Obama - 61.7% McCain
A wide-open district, but too uphill for Democrats.
Now, let's move in to the Wichita area.
SD-16 (lime): Senator Ty Masterson (R)
33.6% Obama - 64.6% McCain
Uncontested eastern suburbs of Wichita.
SD-26 (grey): Senator Dick Kelsey (R)
Challenger(s): Rep. Dan Kerschen (R)
32.6% Obama - 65.3% McCain
Rep. Dan Kerschen was forced to run here or retire as his district was destroyed. Supposedly, he and Sen. Kelsey are friends.
SD-31 (khaki): Senator Carolyn McGinn (R)
Challenger(s): Gary Mason (R)
36.9% Obama - 61.3% McCain
Senator McGinn is a targeted moderate. Gary Mason of Wichita was drawn out due to redistricting, but moved to Park City to be eligible. McGinn can now use that against him.
SD-27 (spring-green): Senator Les Donovan (R)
Challenger(s): Diana Cubbage (D)
33.7% Obama - 64.9% McCain
This district takes the conservative northeast portion of Wichita and suburbs.
SD-28 (plum): Senator Mike Petersen (R)
Challenger(s): Keith Humphrey (D)
44.8% Obama - 53.1% McCain
This southern Wichita district is not out of reach, but it's certainly uphill.
SD-29 (dark sea-green): Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau (D)
Challenger(s): K.C. Ohaebosim (D), Kenya Cox (R)
69.5% Obama - 28.8% McCain; VAP: 44.0% White, 28.5% Black, 19.8% Hispanic, 4.3% Asian, 1.0% Native American
This north-central Wichita district is very safe for Democrats.
SD-30 (dark goldenrod): Senator Susan Wagle (R)
Challenger(s): Patrick Cantwell (D)
44.4% Obama - 54.0% McCain
This eastern Wichita district could be competitive when open.
SD-25 (crimson): Senator Jean Schodorf (R)
Challenger(s): Michael O'Donnell (R), Timothy Snow (D), Perry Schuckman (D)
49.4% Obama - 48.2% McCain
Moderate Senator Schodorf struck gold here. Not only was her conservative primary challenger, Rep. Brenda Landwehr drawn out of this district, but Landwehr declined to move and instead decided to run against State Rep. Nile Dillmore (D) in a district that is 56% his old district. Enter Wichita City Councilman Michael O'Donnell, a conservative, to make sure Schodorf doesn't get off easy. If Schodorf loses her primary, this district would be a real tossup for the general as it became more Democratic in redistricting.
Race To Watch
Let's move to a zoom-in on Northeast Kansas, where two interesting races can be located.
SD-22 (sienna): Senator Roger Reitz (R)
Challenger(s): Tom Hawk (D), Joe Knopp (R), Bob Reader (R)
41.9% Obama - 56.5% McCain
This is an odd race. Although from what I've seen, incumbent Senator Reitz of Manhattan is not under the target of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce for being too moderate, he is still apparently somewhat moderate. Democrat Tom Hawk is a former State Rep. running here, but he said he'll leave if Reitz wins the primary as an act of support for the Kansas Senate moderate coalition. Although this district became more Republican in redistricting by picking up Clay County and losing most of Geary County, all people running in this district are from Manhattan.
Race To Watch
SD-01 (blue): Senator Dennis Pyle (R)
Challenger(s): Steve Lukert (D), Marje Cochren (R)
34.1% Obama - 63.9% McCain
This district is definitely one to watch. Despite its Republican lean on paper, Lukert is a solid candidate for it. From 2006-2010, he held HD-62, a rural district to the right of SD-01:
Furthermore, this SD-01 took all of Lukert's HD-62 in redistricting. Here's the SD-01 used in the 2000's for comparison:
Race To Watch
Now let's move over to the Topeka-Lawrence area. For Shawnee County (Topeka) in particular, Democrats managed to get a full slate despite the short notice to few days given to file for office.
SD-2 (green): Marci Francisco (D)
Challenger(s): Ronald Ellis (R), Jeremy Pierce (R)
62.5% Obama - 35.5% McCain
This district has most of Lawrence in it. That's all that needs to be said.
SD-3 (purple): Tom Holland (D)
Challenger(s): James Tellefson (R), Rep. Anthony Brown (R)
51.6% Obama - 46.5% McCain
This district became more Democratic by losing Jefferson County to Marci Francisco (who has more than enough Dem strength already to afford the addition). Not a bad cushion for the guy who lost to Sam Brownback in 2010. Fun fact: There's also a director named Tom Holland.
SD-18 (yellow): Senator Laura Kelly (D)
Challenger(s): Dick Barta (R), Cristina Fischer (R), Gary Parnell (R)
45.1% Obama - 52.5% McCain
A tricky slice of north Topeka. Redistricting appears to be a wash as she gains a few more strongly-Dem Topeka precincts, drops most of sparsely-populated Wabaunsee County, but gains St. Marys and Womego in Pottawatomie County. None of her opponents appear to be top tier.
SD-19 (yellow-green): Senator Anthony Hensley (D)
Challenger(s): Matthew Windheuser (R), Casey Moore (R)
49.9% Obama - 48.2% McCain
Senate Minority Leader Hensley sees essentially a wash in the numbers of his district. He loses two heavily-Dem Topeka precincts to Senator Kelly and gets all of Osage County, but also gets more of western Douglas County (including the southwestern-most edge of Lawrence). Senator Hensley is currently tied with Senator Morris as the most senior State Senator (both have been in office since 1993).
SD-20 (pink): Senator Vicki Schmidt (R)
Challenger(s): Terry Crowder (D), Rep. Joe Patton (R)
44.9% Obama - 53.5% McCain
This is another moderate Republican being targeted. She didn't get a boost in redistricting as the district became a bit more conservative and rural. If she loses the primary, it could be in play. Conservative Republicans are working hard to help Joe Patton out. The Democrat running is Terry Crowder of Topeka, Vice Chair of the Kansas Human Rights Commission.
Race To Watch
Let's move to Johnson County, the fastest-growing county. Under the new map, Democrats can finally start winning Senate seats here.
SD-37 (lemon chiffon): Senator Pat Apple (R)
Challenger(s): Daniel Campbell (R), Rep. Charlotte O'Hara (R)
35.6% Obama - 63.0% McCain
An incumbent vs. incumbent battle was avoided by Senator Ray Merrick (R) running for the State House instead. Apple has a lot of new territory to cover in this district.
SD-23 (chocolate): Senator Rob Olson (R)
Challenger(s): Steve Wright (D)
41.1% Obama - 57.4% McCain
This district is completely inside of Olathe, which seems to be the fastest-growing city in all of Kansas.
SD-21 (maroon): No Incumbent
Challenger(s): Juanita Roy (D), Joe Beveridge (R), Rep. Greg Smith (R)
48.2% Obama - 50.3% McCain
Since this district was moved from a rural-dominated north-central Senate district, Senator Mark Taddiken (R) was forced to retire. SD-21 now contains all of Lenexa and a piece of Overland Park. The new SD-21 appears to tilt Republican, but will likely be competitive. Joe Beveridge is the more moderate Republican running while Rep. Smith is a strident conservative.
Race To Watch
SD-11 (chartreuse): Senator John Vratil (R)
Challenger(s): Rep. Pat Colloton (R), Jeff Melcher (R), Michael Delaney (D)
39.8% Obama - 59.4% McCain
Senator Vratil was yet another target of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce for being too moderate. He saw his district get an even smaller share of Overland Park and his district became more conservative as a result. As a result of redistricting, he retired. Running for this seat for the Republicans are Rep. Colloton (who appears to be likely ally of the moderates) and Jeff Melcher (who appears to be a conservative).
SD-10 (deep pink): Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook (R)
Challenger(s): Tom Wertz (R), Mark Greene (D)
45.2% Obama - 53.5% McCain
This district containing all of Shawnee essentially underwent a wash in redistricting where it lost a Dem-leaning part of Lenexa and gained a Dem-leaning piece of Merriam. Tom Wertz seems to be challenging Pilcher-Cook from the left on education issues.
SD-9 (cyan): Senator Julia Lynn (R)
Challenger(s): Merlin Ring (D-Camelot)
42.9% Obama - 55.7% McCain
This district appears to have become a bit more conservative. In 2008, Democrats lost this district 45-55 despite their candidate raising almost as much money as Lynn.
SD-8 (slate blue): Senator Tim Owens (R)
Challenger(s): Rep. Jim Denning (R), Lisa Johnston (D)
45.7% Obama - 53.1% McCain
This district is the most targeted by the conservatives and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. Senator Owens has been a thorn in the side of the right-wing whether it was with policies or with redistricting (Owens headed the Senate redistricting committee and led the effort to protect moderates and to have Congressional districts be sane). He saw his district move southwards and is now right in the middle of Overland Park. I believe his conservative primary challenger, Rep. Denning, was drawn out of the district, but he moved in it to run.
Race To Watch
SD-7 (dark grey): Senator Terrie Huntington (R)
Challenger(s): David Harvey (R), Kyle Russell (D), Rep. Kay Wolf (R)
53.5% Obama - 45.2% McCain
Senator Huntington was a target of the conservatives until she retired in the wake of redistricting. Holding up the moderate flag is Rep. Wolf. David Harvey is the conservative challenger. Kyle Russell, the Democratic challenger for this open seat race, is not one to sneeze at. He is the Chairman of the Johnson County Democratic Party and can be expected to have a lot of money funneled his way. If Wolf wins the primary, I expect this race to be a tossup. If Harvey wins the primary, I expect it to lean Democratic.
Race To Watch!
Now, at long last, we move on to Wyandotte County and the city of Leavenworth.
SD-5 (gold): Senator Kelly Kultala (D)
Challenger(s): Steve Fitzgerald (R), Mark Gilstrap (R)
48.4% Obama - 50.1% McCain
This district will see a big brawl. Former Democratic State Senator Gilstrap (whom Kultala defeated in the primary back in 2008) is back as a Republican, as is her 2008 Republican challenger Steve Fitzgerald. Republican conservatives hoped to spoil Kultala's chances by giving her conservative western Leavenworth County, but the court kept her district pretty much the same. Senator Kultala now has incumbency advantage, but she will have to fight hard nonetheless.
SD-6 (teal): Senator Chris Steineger (R)
Challenger(s): Pat Pettey (D), Mario Escobar (D)
63.2% Obama - 34.7% McCain; VAP: 57.8% White, 28.3% Hispanic, 9.2% Black, 2.7% Asian
Senator Steineger was a Democrat until he defected in December 2010 (likely to get more clout). His voting record has since been fairly conservative. However, a defection here was very foolish as he likely doomed his chances in this strongly Democratic district. The top Democrat against him is Pat Pettey, a former County Commissioner and State Rep.
SD-4 (red): Senator David Haley (D)
Challenger(s): Joe Ward (R)
81.3% Obama - 17.7% McCain; VAP: 42.8% Black, 32.7% White, 19.7% Hispanic, 2.6% Asian
It's a Senate district entirely inside of urban Kansas City. It's the bluest area in the whole state.
There you have it. Democrats will likely gain one Senate district and lose one. However, there are several districts where Democrats are competitive in Topeka, Wichita, Johnson County, northeast Kansas, and maybe even Manhattan. Democrats and moderate Republicans both got a small boost in redistricting and let's hope that the moderate majority in the Senate holds up for the sake of Kansans everywhere.