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GOP To Seek Injunction On House Redistricting

By Associated Press

Frankfort, KY – Kentucky House Republicans plan to file a lawsuit within days challenging the constitutionality of a redistricting measure that hits GOP state representatives especially hard, the party's House floor leader said Wednesday.

Rep. Jeff Hoover said the lawsuit also will seek an injunction to delay implementing the measure and ask that next Tuesday's election filing deadline be postponed until the matter is resolved. A government watchdog group, concerned about what it considers overtly political motives that fashioned new legislative districts, may seek to join the case.

"I am very sympathetic," said Richard Beliles, head of Common Cause of Kentucky. "I think this was very unfair."

The Democratic-controlled House voted largely along party lines on Jan. 12 to redraw boundary lines in a way that sets up Republican vs. Republican races in three House districts. One unfortunate Republican would face powerful House Democratic Floor Leader Rocky Adkins in northeastern Kentucky.

The new lines also produced some oddly shaped state House districts. The 89th stretches from the Tennessee border in McCreary County, zigzags narrowly through Laurel County, then encompasses all of Jackson County for a geographic setup that one lawmaker said would require an airplane for travel.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear signed the measure into law last week.

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said population changes, not politics, guided the redistricting measure.

"Nothing is done in this bill is an attempt at malice," Stumbo said the day it passed the House. "Nothing is done in this bill to be blatantly unfair to any person. Nothing in this bill is done to do anything other than what we are charged to do."

With the newly drawn district lines, Reps. Myron Dossett of Pembroke and Ben Waide of Madisonville are together in the 9th District. Reps. Mike Harmon of Danville and Kim King of Harrodsburg would share the 54th District. Reps. C.B. Embry Jr. of Morgantown, Jim DeCesare of Rockfield and Michael Meredith of Brownsville would be together in the 17th District. All are Republicans.

Even Hoover would be paired with a yet-to-be-decided incumbent in the 83rd District under the House proposal. Republican Rep. Jill York of Grayson would face Adkins in the 99th District.

Hoover identified some key legal issues: The new districts divide more counties than necessary and the plan puts Republican lawmakers in districts with larger populations than their Democratic counterparts.

A similar lawsuit filed after the 1990 census established some of the case law that House Republicans would point to in their impending legal challenge.