KANSAS CITY, KAN—There could be some big changes in store for Kansas' four congressional districts after the U.S. Census showed a big population spike in Johnson County, and analysts say that the fight over redistricting the Kansas 3rd Congressional District could get ugly.
The district covers Johnson, Wyandotte and parts of Douglas County, including parts of Lawrence. According to Census numbers, between April 1, 2000 and July 1, 2009, Johnson County's population rose nearly 20 percent, while Douglas County saw more than a 15 percent increase. Wyandotte County actually lost two percent of its population. Across the state of Kansas, the state only grew at a 4.8 percent clip.
Simply put, analysts say, there are too many people in the Third District, and lawmakers are faced with the task of shrinking it in a fair manner.
"Johnson County had a lot of growth where as the state has really remained stagnant," said Ronnie Metsker, Johnson County GOP Chairman. "And so we stand to have a smaller 3rd Congressional District. What that district looks like, no on really knows yet."
Metsker says that the process of redrawing the congressional map will get heated.
"When it come right down to it, it's a power play for individual congress person, or a state representative trying to protect their turf," said Metsker.
But Kansas Democratic Party chair Larry Gates says that the match-up won't really be fair. He says it will be a tough struggle for Democrats, because Republicans have all four congressional seats in Kansas. He says that it won't be just as simple as just giving up part of Johnson County. Lawmakers will have to figure out what to do with Kansas City, Kansas, and part of Lawrence.
Lawmakers are waiting on this years census numbers, which they expect to get in February. But it could be May of 2012 before the new boundaries are determined. There are talks that the population of Johnson and Wyandotte counties could make up the new Third District on their own.
"It goes back to the premise of every man, one vote," said Metsker.