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Kentucky Senate president defends redistricting plans pushed forward by GOP-led legislature

‘You can’t be a dragon slayer without a dragon,’ Sen. Robert Stivers said of criticism of district maps that have been redrawn by Republicans
A final vote is expected late this week.
Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 6:28 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WAVE) - The Kentucky legislature’s 2022 session is likely to be filled with hot-button issues, but Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers believes redistricting should not be one of them.

“You can’t be a dragon slayer without a dragon,” Stivers said of potential criticism of district maps that have been redrawn by Republicans.

The Kentucky Senate launched into its 2022 session with redistricting maps still shrouded from public scrutiny. However, Stivers said no incumbent senator of either party would be required to run for office in a new district.

“(The maps) are different,” Stivers said on opening day of the 2022 legislative session. “Make no doubt they are different, but let’s be realistic. Our guiding principles are naturally legally and constitutionally defensible, and I believe we’ve done that with both maps. But there also has to come a certain sense of personal consideration, and I think that was done, because there is no encumbrance running against each other. Zero, zero — no incumbents. No Republicans versus Republicans, no Democrats versus Democrats, and no Democrats versus Republicans.”

However, the Senate Republicans’ redistricting plan for Senate districts differs from Republican maps for House districts. The House plan, unveiled Thursday, would force some incumbents from both parties to run against each other in four redrawn districts.

According to Stivers, the 3rd Congressional District, which is being vacated this year by retiring Congressman John Yarmuth (D - District 3), will look very similar on the redrawn map. Stivers said that some voters in southern and eastern Jefferson County would be assigned to the district currently held by Congressman Brett Guthrie (R - District 2).

Sen. Morgan McGarvey (D - District 19), who is running for Yarmuth’s congressional seat, said he had not seen the new map but criticized the process.

“This is why I believe we need a non-partisan redistricting committee,” McGarvey said. “Because we should take the politics out of it. It’s what we should do to have fair and transparent maps. That’s not the system that has been in place in Kentucky. It’s not the system that’s in place today, but it is the system we need in place going forward.”

Both House and Senate redistricting plans have been fast-tracked for approval in the Republican-dominated legislature. A final vote is expected late this week.

The Senate maps had not been seen publicly prior to Tuesday’s session and they had not been posted to the legislative website as of 6 p.m. on that same date.

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