Lawmakers approved a congressional redistricting plan for Kentucky on Friday, a day after an attorney went to court to ask a judge to take over the issue. The House voted 58-26 for the plan, two hours after the Senate passed it 29-7. The heavily debated measure, which also reopens the congressional filing deadline for five days, was signed into law by Gov. Steve Beshear. Despite protests from the GOP, the plan bolsters the Democrats’ hold on the 6th Congressional District represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler. State Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr, R-Lexington, called the proposal the “Ben Chandler Lifetime Employment Act.” “We’re making this a completely Democratic district,” Kerr said.
The plan also could help incumbent Republican congressmen, including U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers. He would keep some key counties that he wanted in the 5th District that he has represented for more than 30 years. It also would keep Owensboro in the 2nd District and Ashland in the 4th District. The House had pressed to shift those cities into the 1st District and 5th District, respectively.
Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, charged that the proposal “packs” the congressional districts in favor of the incumbents — four Republicans and two Democrats — in a way that essentially ensures their re-election. “This is redistricting gone wild,” he said. “We just gave them a free seat in Congress.”