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Manhattan moved to 1st District

By Bill Felber

A three-judge federal panel released new maps for the state’s Congressional and legislative districts Thursday evening that will shift the Manhattan area into a new Congressional district and impact the conduct of elections here for the next decade.

The judges moved both Riley and Pottawatomie Counties from their long-standing Second District homes into the First Congressional district. They also substantially re-drew the boundaries of the 22nd State Senate district, and adjusted boundaries for the 66th and 67th House seats as well.

The most profound change for voters will be at the Congressional level. Rather than looking at a November race between incumbent Rep. Lynn Jenkins, a Republican, and Topeka activist Tobias Schlinginsiepen, a Democrat, they now face a choice between Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a Fowler Republican, and nobody. State Democrats have indicated they remain in a search for an opponent to Huelskamp with the filing deadline set at noon on Monday.

The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce had lobbied both the Legislature and the judges in support of keeping Manhattan in the Second District. Chamber President Lyle Butler expressed disappointment Friday, but said the organization would refocus its efforts toward “building a strong relationship with the (First District) representative.” Those efforts will include meetings with Huelskamp and his staff during the Chamber’s annual trip to Washington later this month. He said those talks would focus on two priority topics; Fort Riley and the NBAF.

But another specific part of that agenda will be an effort to secure a Congressional office for the Manhattan area. Butler noted that Manhattan not only will be moved into the First District, but it will become the largest city in that district. “Since we are the largest — the chamber intends to appeal to the current congressman and ask that we would like to see an office here,” Butler affirmed. He said it is common practice for congressional offices to be placed in the district’s largest city.

Reitz files for new term

The redrawn 22nd State Senate district lost much of its Junction City and Geary County area and picked up those portions of Riley County it did not already have as well as Clay County. It also gained a new candidate as incumbent Republican Sen. Roger Reitz decided he would fill for a third term in the seat to which he was elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2008.

Reitz faces as three-way primary against Bob Reader and Joe Knopp. Again, Democrats have to date not identified a candidate to run against the primary winner, and they will have until noon Monday to do so.

The judges? map also contains significant shifts in the local House map, including the addition of what amounts to a third House district. The judges extended the formerly Clay County-based 64th House district to include the area west of Scenic Drive including the Manhattan regional Airport area and Ogden.

The 66th District, which has been represented by Democrat Sydney Carlin, was redrawn to essentially cover the area east of College Avenue, with the 67th District, which has been represented by Republican Tom Phillips, encompassing portions of the city west of College.

Judges collapsed the former 21st Senate district of Mark Taddiken, a Clifton Republican, shifting much of it into the 22nd District. Taddiken announced last week he would not be seeking re-election.


Outside the city

Beyond Manhattan, the new maps also have implications for many of the area’s smaller communities. The towns of Riley, Leonardville and Randolph all shift from the 21st Senate district into the 22nd, and from the 106th House district of Rep. Sharon Schwartz into the 64th House district of Vern Swanson, a Clay Center Republican.

Wamego and all of Pottawatomie County remain in the First Senate district of Dennis Pyle, a Hiawatha Republican. But Wamego and St. George are both moved from the 61st House district of Rep. Richard Carlson, a St. Marys Republican, into the 51st House District that has been represented by Mike Burgess, a Topeka Republican. The new 51st District will be an open seat because Burgess’ residence was redrawn into a 53rd House district that also contains the residences of two other incumbents, Democrat Annie Kuether and Republican Lana Gordon. All of Pottawatomie County except the three southwesternmost townships remain in Carlson’s 61st House district.

The judges shifted most of Junction City from Reitz’s 22nd district into the 17th District of Jeff Longbine, an Emporia Republican. However the northwest portion of Geary County, including Milford, will remain in the 22nd District.

The three-judge panel took the red8stricting issue on when the Kansas Legislature failed to agree on how new maps should be drawn. The judges’ decision takes effect for the August primary and November general election.

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