|Democrats sued Kansas officials on Monday over a Republican redistricting law that costs the state’s only Democrat in Congress some of the territory in her Kansas City-area district that she carries by wide margins in elections.
A team of attorneys led by Democratic attorney Marc Elias’ firm filed the lawsuit in Wyandotte County District Court in the Kansas City area. Elias has been involved in lawsuits in multiple states, including Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio, and he promised that the new Kansas map would be challenged when the GOP-controlled Legislature on Wednesday overrode Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of it.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of five voters and a Kansas voting-rights group, Loud Light. The defendants are the elections commissioner for Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab, the state’s top elections official.
Kansas is part of a broader national battle over redrawing congressional districts. Republicans hope to recapture a U.S. House majority in this year’s elections, and both parties are watching states’ redistricting efforts because they could help either pick up or defend individual seats.
The Kansas redistricting law removes the northern part of Kansas City, Kansas, from the 3rd District that U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids represents and puts it in the neighboring 2nd District, which includes the state capital of Topeka but also rural communities across eastern Kansas. Kansas City is among Republican-leaning Kansas’ few Democratic strongholds.
Elias has said the GOP map for Kansas is “blatantly unconstitutional.” Democrats argued that it amounts to partisan gerrymandering aimed at costing Davids’ her seat, while diluting the clout of Black and Hispanic voters by cutting their numbers in her district. They also have argued that the map is unacceptable because it fails to keep the core of the state’s side of the Kansas City area in a single district.