Topeka — Redistricting may have produced a brief surge of business for moving companies.
At least a half-dozen legislators recently moved to establish residency in newly drawn districts.
The strategy has produced some criticism.
Caleb Correll, a Democratic candidate for the state House from Ottawa, called new Ottawan TerriLois Gregory, a Republican who had been a legislator from Baldwin City, a “carpetbagger.”
But Secretary of State Kris Kobach said Gregory’s pivot into another district is permissible.
He said the Legislature hasn’t imposed any time limits on how long a person must have lived in the district before attempting to run for office from there.
Moving boxes were hauled out after June 7 when a panel of three federal judges issued its order, redrawing the boundaries for congressional, legislative and State Board of Education districts after the Legislature failed to fulfill this responsibility that comes every 10 years to adjust districts to accommodate population shifts.
The new lines erased a half-century of gerrymandering and resulted in dozens of legislators occupying the same districts and many districts without incumbents. And the judges made no change to the noon June 11 deadline to file for a candidacy.
Gregory’s 10th House District was placed entirely in Douglas County and became less Republican than before.
Gregory said the move to the 59th District was natural for personal and political reasons. She had represented part of Franklin County before and was “trying to be a good team player with the Republican Party,” she said.
She said that means she had helped line up a GOP candidate in the 10th — Erica Anderson of Baldwin City who will face Democrat John Wilson of Lawrence in the November general election.
Gregory also said that moving to Ottawa will allow her next year to move into an apartment complex called Washburn Towers that is reserved for people 55 and older.
Moving right along
The new district maps prompted several other legislators to pack their bags.
Melanie Meier, a Democrat who represented the 40th House District in Leavenworth, was placed in the 42nd with state Rep. Connie O’Brien, R-Tonganoxie, under the new map. She has decided to move to the 41st, also in Leavenworth, where she will live across the street from a home she is remodeling. In that district, Meier will face the winner of the GOP matchup between state Rep. Jana Goodman and Mark Preisinger, both of Leavenworth.
State Rep. Clark Shultz moved from Lindsborg to McPherson to stay in the 73rd House District. The new maps had drawn his Lindsborg residence into the 108th District. He is using the McPherson address of an apartment that was recently leased to his school-teacher daughter.
Another move that has drawn attention is in Hutchinson where veteran legislator Jan Pauls awoke June 8 to find her home had been placed in a different district than the one she had been representing.
So Pauls, a Democrat, filed back in her old district using the address of a church she and her husband, Ron, had bought and were renovating.
That move has been opposed by the Kansas Equality Coalition, a gay rights group that has often opposed Pauls for her political stances against homosexuals. Thomas Witt, executive director of the KEC, said Pauls is falsely claiming that she lives in the church; Pauls says otherwise, and the issue will be considered in a candidacy challenge before the State Objections Board on Tuesday. The board is composed of Kobach, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer and Attorney General Derek Schmidt, all Republicans.
Another area of controversy that will be hashed out before the Objections Board is a challenge over Kobach’s decision to reassign about 80 candidates into different districts from the ones they had filed. This was done to match their new districts under the new maps. Some have said Kobach doesn’t have the authority to do that.
John Alcala, who is running for the 57th House District, said the Republican in the race, Aimee Rosenow, filed in the 53rd District. When the maps were redrawn, Kobach placed her in the 57th District.
Alcala said that isn’t right.
“Election laws should be applied fairly and evenly and not based on who you know in high places,” Alcala said in a letter to Kobach. His letter included a photograph from Rosenow’s website that shows her and Kobach together at a political function.