JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Candidate filing for the August primary is closed and those running for Congress still don’t know the lines of the district they are running in.
Five days after the Senate passed its version of the congressional map, the House rejected it and made a motion to send it to conference. “Conference” means a group of bipartisan members from both chambers work together to find a compromise.
Missouri is one of the last states in the country to approve a map, something that must be done every ten years. Filing closed Tuesday evening, which means congressional candidates don’t know the lines of the districts they are running in.
Both the House and Senate version is a 6 Republican-2 Democrat, similar to what’s already in place. Unlike the House, the Senate put both military bases, Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base in the same district. It also puts more of St. Charles County in the same district.
In the current map, the population in the county is split 65% to 35%. This new version would split the county 80% to 20% with the most population in the 3rd Congressional District.
The map also significantly changes the 2nd district, which contains St. Louis County, held by U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner. Senate Leadership said they hope that change makes it more Republican.
Another change, Jefferson Couty would move from the 3rd district to the 8th district which stretches down to the Popular Bluff, all the way to Branson. Franklin County also would be split in two. The county currently resides in all of the 3rd District, but under the Senate version is in the 2nd and the 3rd.
The Senate version also preserves U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s Democratic district in the Kansas City area, which at the start of debate months ago, was a point of concern for the Democrats.
Representatives stressed their frustration with the Senate during floor debate Tuesday afternoon saying senators waited until the last minute to get this done.
“They waited two days before the filing deadline to send it back to us,” said Rep. Jerome Barnes (D-Raytown). “They read books, they did everything but do their job. Anytime that you purposely draw a map not to represent the members of the state of Missouri but to satisfy your own political game, that is not the Missouri way.”
Rep. Dan Shaul (R-Imperial) spearheaded the legislation in the House. He said Thursday afternoon there is a sense of urgency to get the map approved before candidate filing ended Tuesday. He said members have been waiting almost three months for the Senate to get the job done.
“I think it was on the floor of the Senate someone had said this may not be the best map they were able to put together but it was the one they were able to pass at least,” Shaul said Tuesday. “That’s not good enough for me. I would like to get the best map possible for the state of Missouri.”
The state’s population after the census was 6,154,913, meaning that the increase in each of the eight congressional districts was 20,000 people. The 1st district, which represents St. Louis City, and the 8th district, southeast Missouri, both needed more people, while the 7th district, covering southwest Missouri like Joplin needed less.
“It’s an absolute shame that something as important to the State of Missouri as these maps are that people are making it a self-interest to their future,” said Rep. Don Rone (R-Portageville). “It’s an absolute shame. We should be embarrassed for those people down there and the people of Missouri should know it’s not our body that’s doing this, it’s the body on the other end.”
Rep. Nick Schroer (R-O’Fallon) who originally tried to change the House version to a 7 Republican-1 Democrat map voted against sending the map to conference, saying the Senate won’t compromise.
“Sending this back over to a volatile body that I’ve already been told by members of both parties, that if this goes back they will filibuster the motion to take it to conference,” Schroer said.
The House voted 115-19 to reject the map and send it to conference, but it’s now up to the Senate to agree to that motion. There have already been two lawsuits filed against the state for that reason, and more could be on the way since filing is over and there’s no map.
According to the Secretary of State’s Office, 68 candidates filed to run in one of the eight congressional districts. If members fail to find a compromise in conference, the map would be in the hands of the court.