After more twists and turns than a Six Flags roller-coaster, redistricting has been nothing short of a harrowing experience. But is it possible that the state Senate redistricting could be reaching some sort of conclusion?
Maybe. Friday is the deadline for feedback for a tentative Senate map that was approved by a bipartisan commission a couple of weeks ago. The lines have to be redrawn every 10 years to conform with population shifts throughout the state.
The response, of course, hasn’t been universally favorable. While some lawmakers, such as Sen. Brian Nieves (R-Washington), have been content with their reconfigured districts, others, such as Mehlville and Oakville's Senator Jim Lembke (R-Lemay) and Jane Cunningham (R-Chesterfield), have not been as effusive. That’s especially the case for Cunningham, who was effectively drawn out of a district.
Lembke testified Thursday afternoon with the apportionment commission. The new district lines place South County in with Maplewood and Webster Groves. He said Oakville and Maplewood didn't have a lot in common.
Even though the commission could vote to finalize the maps, there’s yet another legal wrinkle in the Senate redistricting process. According to the Associated Press, a federal lawsuit was filed trying to get a judge to order the use of a Senate map that had been proposed by a judicial panel last year, but later discarded by the Missouri Supreme Court.
And even if there’s some finality to the state Senate lines, its worth repeating that the Missouri Supreme Court has yet to decide on separate cases challenging congressional and state house proposals. So this long-and-winding process may not be at an end.
While filing continues through March 27, some state Senate races are beginning to formulate.
One contest that’s more unsettled is in 1st District in South County. Lembke has yet to file for re-election and has told various media outlets that he may not run in the reconstituted district.
In the meantime, two Democrats, former Reps. Sue Schoemehl (D-Oakville) and Michael Vogt (D-St. Louis), have signed up to run as Democrats.
Meanwhile, Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Glendale) and Senate Majority Leader Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles) filed to run for re-election in their respective districts. Schmitt’s new district includes a swath of southern and central St. Louis County, while Dempsey will continue to represent a portion of St. Charles County.
Ashcroft endorses Martin, Romney
When this column last mentioned former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, he had just announced his endorsement of Republican Ann Wagner’s U.S. Congressional bid in Missouri’s 2nd District.
At the time, Wagner was running against Ed Martin. And it was yet another showcase of Wagner’s ability to snag big-name endorsement to her tally.
Now that Martin is no longer running against Wagner, the St. Louis City attorney is receiving Ashcroft’s blessing. The former state auditor, attorney general, governor and U.S. Senator officially backed Martin’s bid against Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster.
"I have known Ed for years and seen firsthand his work for our state and his great love for his family and concern for their welfare," Ashcroft said in a statement. "Ed's commitment to the rule of law is important. His executive governmental responsibilities and his legal experience as a clerk of the federal district court together with his years as a private sector lawyer eminently qualify him for service as Attorney General of Missouri."
Martin is running against Livingston County Prosecutor Adam Warren to decide which Republican will face Koster. Unlike his previous race, in which Wagner soaked up most of the endorsements, Martin is receiving backing from dozens of elected officials and activists.
Ashcroft, by the way, also threw his support behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. He said in a statement that “no other candidate stands out for his executive leadership experience or ability to accomplish difficult tasks as does Mitt Romney.”