Lexington Herald – Leader
Citing ‘political gerrymandering,’ Gov. Beshear vetoes GOP majority’s redistricting maps
John Cheves – January 19, 2022
Citing “unconstitutional political gerrymandering,” Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear on Wednesday vetoed the House Republican majority’s new maps for the 100 House districts and the GOP-dominated legislature’s plans to redraw the state’s six congressional districts.
The GOP holds veto-proof super-majorities in both chambers of the legislature, so they can override the governor. But Republican legislative leaders hoped to put this issue behind them during the first week of the session early this month.
“We are disappointed that the governor has chosen to again veto lawfully enacted legislation,” House Speaker David Osborne, R-Prospect, said in a prepared statement on the vetoes.
“He is wrong on the facts, wrong on the law, and he knows it,” Osborne said. “This proposal meets all legal considerations. It splits no precincts, divides the fewest number of counties possible, and preserves communities of interest.”
On the congressional district map, Beshear specifically cited the redrawn 1st Congressional District, which would now extend from Fulton County on the Mississippi River to Franklin County in the Bluegrass region. Democrats protested that this was intended to remove Franklin County’s Democratic votes from Central Kentucky’s more moderate 6th Congressional District, attaching it to the far more conservative 1st District.
“Under this map, someone driving from Lexington to Louisville would drive across five of the state’s congressional districts, but it would take over four hours to get from one side of the First District to the other,” Beshear wrote in his veto message.
On the state legislative map, Beshear criticized the House plan for excessively splitting up counties, particularly urban counties that lean Democratic, such as Jefferson, Fayette, Boone and Warren, for partisan reasons that favor the Republican majorities.
“This redistricting plan appears designed to deprive certain communities of representation,” Beshear wrote. “Moreover, according to the demographic data the House released after it passed this bill, this plan appears to dilute the voices of certain minority communities.”