Oklahoma Senate redistricting: Five senators carved out of their districts

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The Oklahoma Senate redistricting plan, drawn up by political consultant Karl Ahlgren, will move five incumbent state senators -- two Democrats and three Republicans, including the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee -- out of their own districts, according to a BatesLine analysis of the new boundaries.

A BatesLine geocommons map shows the new Oklahoma State Senate boundaries, the 1992-2000 boundaries, the current boundaries, and the locations of current state senators.

By state law (51 O.S. 8), the seats will become vacant as soon as the redistricting plan takes effect.

Generally, a redistricting plan is designed to accomplish one of the following purposes:

(1) Protect incumbents of all parties. This produces a map with odd-looking districts, but exactly one incumbent in each district.

(2) Help the majority party and hurt the minority party. This produces a map with odd-looking districts, but with more than one incumbent in some districts. Often two incumbents of the minority party will be placed in the same district, making it likely that the minority's numbers will dwindle by one. Another approach is to take a small area of a minority incumbent's district and join it to an adjacent district controlled by the majority party, forcing the minority incumbent to compete for reelection at a great disadvantage.

(3) Reflect communities of interest, without regard to party advantage or incumbent protection. This only happens in states that use a combination of a non-partisan commission and some automated method of drawing boundaries.

This plan appears to be something altogether different, as it targets three majority-party incumbents. Is this some effort to punish dissenters? Or is personal animus or vengeance on the part of the mapmaker involved?

The five victims:

SD 3: Jim Wilson (D-Tahlequah). SD 9 (incumbent Earl Garrison, D-Muskogee) has been redrawn to extend a narrow strip along US 62 to encompass Tahlequah, separating the Cherokee County seat from the rest of the county. Wilson is term-limited after the 2012 legislative session.

SD 20: David Myers (R-Ponca City). Myers, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, would be thrown into SD 36 (Eddie Fields, R-Wynona), while SD 20 would be moved to the south, to cover Noble, Pawnee, and Logan Counties and most of Kingfisher County, except for Kingfisher itself. Myers was elected to his third and final term last fall without opposition. He would hit his term limit after the 2014 session, assuming he doesn't lose his seat via this redistricting plan.

SD 22: Rob Johnson (R-Kingfisher). A former state representative for four years, Johnson has been thrown into SD 26 (incumbent Tom Ivester, D-Sayre). SD 22 currently encompasses southern Kingfisher and northern Canadian Counties, with small adjacent segments from Logan and Oklahoma Counties. SD 22 would shift south, to cover western Canadian and northern Grady Counties. The new SD 26 has a narrow strip reaching into Kingfisher County to grab the city of Kingfisher where Johnson lives. Johnson was elected to the State Senate in 2010. He would be eligible to run for reelection in 2014.

SD 33: Tom Adelson (D-Tulsa). The Democrat nominee for Tulsa mayor in 2009 would be in a redrawn SD 39 (Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, incumbent) which would reach west to incorporate Utica Square and surrounding neighborhoods, while SD 33, currently covering midtown and west Tulsa, would be relocated to snake its way through south and east Tulsa County, from 211th St. South & 33rd West Ave., south of Bixby, through Leonard and Broken Arrow, to 41st and Memorial. Adelson is eligible to run for one more term in 2012. The new boundaries for SD 35 and 39 make a detour to include Utica Square; that sort of maneuver has been used in the past to accommodate a legislator who wishes to move to a posher neighborhood outside his current boundaries.

SD 43: Jim Reynolds (R-Oklahoma City). SD 43 is currently in Oklahoma County, mainly east of I-35 and south of I-40. The district would be moved to McClain and parts of Stephens, Grady, and Garvin Counties, while Reynolds would be thrown into SD 45 with Steve Russell (R-Oklahoma City). Reynolds is term-limited after the 2012 election.

Under this plan and the state law that requires a member to live in his district, David Myers would lose his Senate seat as soon as the plan takes effect. Presumably, the vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee would be in line to take the chairmanship. The vice chairman is Clark Jolley who is, coincidentally, the Republican co-chairman of the Senate redistricting committee.


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1 Comments

mark said:

Fascinating, Michael. Thanks for putting together the information for us.

Sort of reeks of sinister, huh? Is this guy Ahlgren Satan, or just running for that office?

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on May 13, 2011 11:24 AM.

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