Would-be candidate’s residence remains out of bounds in endorsed map

By Bill Felber

The proposed redrawing of state Senate districts that was endorsed by a committee Friday leaves the residence of one of two declared Republican candidates for the 22nd District seat just outside the district’s boundaries.

At issue is the residence of Bob Reader, who has been campaigning for the seat presently held by Roger Reitz since last fall. Reader’s home is at 6560 N. 52nd Street, barely outside the proposed northern boundary of the new 22nd Senate district, which is 52nd Street.

As envisioned by the committee, the new 22nd Senate district would essentially comprise the cities of Manhattan, Ogden and Junction City. That includes reuniting the Northview portion of Manhattan, which for the past decade has been in the 21st Senate district represented by Mark Taddiken, a Clifton Republican.

The redistricting committee’s map must still be approved by the full Senate, and also by the House, although the latter action is considered a formality since the legislature’s two chambers have traditionally deferred to each other in the drawing of their districts.

The map endorsed by the Senate committee headed by Tim Owens, a Johnson County moderate, appears to give an advantage to incumbent State Sen. Roger Reitz, also a moderate, assuming Reitz decides to seek a new term. Reader is running as a conservative, and his candidacy has been backed by the Legislature’s conservative branch, suggesting the possibility of a floor fight over the final boundaries. The other declared candidate in the Senate race is Joe Knopp, whose Manhattan residence lies well within both the existing and proposed 22nd district.

Neither Reitz nor the two declared candidates could be reached Saturday for comment on the committee’s action.

The northern boundary in that area of the existing 22nd District is 60th Street, roughly one mile north of the proposed new boundary. Reader’s residence is within the existing boundary.

A similar residence question arose in 2008 when Democrat Rusty Wilson ran against Reitz. At the time, Wilson’s residence was a few hundred feet north of the district boundary, forcing him to rent a residence within the district boundaries in order to run.

Even if the boundaries do not change, Reader could theoretically do what Wilson did and become an eligible candidate. But Knopp last week urged lawmakers to adjust the map’s boundary far enough north to bring Reader’s residence into the district and eliminate the need for such an action.

One potential downside for district residents is that the proposed map gives the district 74,486 residents, 4.93 percent more than the ideal figure. If the map is adopted as drawn, the 22nd District would be the third largest Senate district in the state by populaton, topped only by the First District in southeast Kansas and by Taddiken’s 21st District.

Lawmakers must complete work on all maps by May 10 in order to avoid delays in filing deadlines for state and federal offices.

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