Redistricting in Missouri

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Note: Redistricting takes place every 10 years after completion of the United States Census. The information here pertains to the 2010 redistricting process.

Redistricting in Missouri
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This page is about redistricting in Missouri. After a decade of slow growth, Missouri needed to redraw its nine U.S. House seats, reducing the total to eight.[1] Missouri was 16,000 residents short of the number required to retain the seat.[2]


Missouri employs two distinct processes for legislative and Congressional redistricting. With respect to Congressional redistricting, the Missouri General Assembly bears primary responsibility, proposing and passing the redistricting plan as ordinary legislation. As such, the Governor of Missouri has the power to veto the plan.

For legislative redistricting, two bi-partisan commissions are appointed to carry out the process for each chamber. The state committees for both major parties present a list of nominees to the Governor, each including 10 Senate commission members and 18 House commission members. Two House commission members must be nominated from each Congressional district. The Governor then selects half of the nominees from each party for a total of 10 Senate commission members and 18 House commission members. The Governor must appoint a Democratic and Republican House commission member from each Congressional district.

From the date of their appointment, the commissions have six months to complete redistricting for their respective chamber. If one of the commissions fails to reach a compromise by the deadline, the process for that chamber is turned over to a panel of six appellate judges. Provided that the other commission has met the deadline, the panel will not intervene in that chamber's maps. Once the panel of judges has taken control, it has 90 days to complete the redistricting plan.[3]


The Governor's office announced the members of the House and Senate Redistricting Commissions on March 18, 2011. The full list included 18 House commission members and 10 Senate commission members.[4][5]

Senate Redistricting Commission

The following were members of the Senate Redistricting Commission:[5][6]

Democratic PartyDemocrats (5)

  • John Borbonus (D - St. Louis)
  • Doug Harpool (D - Springfield)
  • Jeff Mazur (D - Ashland)
  • Terry Riley (D - Kansas City)
  • Bob Saunders (D - Liberty)

Republican PartyRepublicans (5)

  • John Maupin (R - St. Louis)
  • Joe Passanise (R - Springfield)
  • Miles Ross (R - Springfield)
  • Kathy Swan (R - Cape Girardeau)
  • Yancy Williams (R - Columbia)

House Redistricting Commission

The following were members of the House Redistricting Commission:[5][7]

Democratic PartyDemocrats (9)

  • Marlene E. Davis (D - CD1, St. Louis)
  • Cheryl Hibbeler (D - CD2, O'Fallon)
  • Jo Ann Karll (D - CD3, High Ridge)
  • Paula Willmarth (D - CD4, Jefferson City)
  • W. Mitchell Elliott (D -CD5, Kansas City)
  • Trent Skaggs (D - CD6, North Kansas City)
  • Todd Patterson (D - CD7 Joplin)
  • Nate Kennedy (D - CD8, Poplar Bluff)
  • Joe Maxwell (D - CD9, Mexico)

Republican PartyRepublicans (9)

  • Thomas Wilsdon (R -CD1, St. Louis)
  • Ann Wagner (R - CD2 , Ballwin)
  • David Courtway (R - CD3, Festus)
  • Violet Corbett (R - CD4, Knob Noster)
  • Chuck Caisley (R - CD5, Kansas City)
  • James C. Thomas III (R - CD6, Kansas City)
  • Nick Myers (R - CD7, Joplin)
  • Eddy Justice (R - CD8, Poplar Bluff)
  • Cindy O'Laughlin (R - CD9, Shelbina)

Public hearings

The Missouri House Special Standing Committee on Redistricting held four public hearings during the week of February 28. Those dates and locations were:[8][9]

  • Tuesday, March 1 at Moreland Ridge Middle School in Blue Springs at 5 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 2 at the Mexico Chamber of Commerce in Mexico at 3 p.m.[10]
  • Thursday, March 3 at Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff at 6 p.m.
  • Friday, March 4 at the St. Louis County Courthouse in Clayton at 2 p.m.

Census results

Knowing one district would have to be cut, Missouri lawmakers gained details from Census Bureau data. The then-current 9th District had the smallest population, though all seats were underpopulated. As of April 2010, Missouri's U.S. House seats were as follows:[11]

  • District 1 - 587,069
  • District 2 - 706,622
  • District 3 - 625,251
  • District 4 - 679,375
  • District 5 - 633,887
  • District 6 - 693,974
  • District 7 - 721,754
  • District 8 - 656,894
  • District 9 - 684,101

The target number for the eight seats that emerged from the 2011 session was 748,615.[12]

The 1st and 3rd, making up the St. Louis metro area, had the biggest adjustment to make. After that, the 2nd, 6th, and 7th looked to pick up significant populations.[13]

At the state legislative level, borders for seats in both chambers were also due to remapped, with the counties of Columbia and Boone each big enough to accommodate multiple seats.[14] Congressionally, Columbia residents began to push for putting the entire city in a single district -- at the time, it was split in two -- as a recognition of the city's growing size and influence.[15]

Missouri's two key cities proved to be going in separate directions. Kansas City saw modest growth of about four percent. But St. Louis continued a decades-long slide, registering a population of 320,000, which is about where the city was in 1870.[16]

Despite this continued trend of residents fleeing the St. Louis area, the city pushed to keep its three Congressional seats, citing a need for clout in Washington, DC.[17][18] Early hearings brought out citizens and local politicians pushing to keep enough areas with concentrated black populations in the 1st District to preserve it as a very competitive seat for minority candidates. However, those same hearings featured some residents of areas outside the city proper of St. Louis who didn't want to be included in the same Congressional district as the port.[19]

Despite their massive majorities in both legislative chambers, Republicans took the precaution of hiring the same attorney who led George W. Bush's 2000 fight over the Florida election count as a consultant for 2011 redistricting.[20] Michael Carvin, of Washington, DC based Jones Day, is considered an expert on Constitutional law and had previously handled redistricting cases.[21]

Congressional maps


Figure 1: This map shows the Missouri Congressional Districts after the 2000 census.

Set to lose a district once the 2010 Census results were announced, Missouri was left facing the possibility that one plurality black seat, the 1st District, which includes St. Louis, might be in danger. Three decades earlier, when the state last lost a seat, the fight again came down to protecting a seat with a black plurality. Then, with a state House controlled by Democrats, legislators found themselves unable to decide between which of two seats they would protect and the matter ultimately passed to a Federal court.

In the wake of the 2010 midterms, Republicans were primed to control the redistricting process and, while the new majority was set to work amicably with Democrats in the Assembly, Dems in Missouri's House Delegation were reduced to holding three seats, any one of which was a potential target to be the seat eliminated in redistricting.[22] Dropping to eight seats put Missouri's representation in Congress at the smallest it's been since before the Civil War.[23]

Democratic Governor Jay Nixon could veto any plan the legislature submitted to him, but Senate Republicans gained a sufficient majority to override any veto. In the House, the GOP began 2011 only three votes short of being able to override a gubernatorial veto. Representative John Diehl, Chair of the House Special Standing Committee on Redistricting, allowed that he was aware of his party's ability to render a veto meaningless but made no explicit statements beyond that.

John Diehl, Jr. (R) discusses redistricting in Missouri after the census figures were released.

Possible scenarios

The most commonly presumed scenario would have seen Democratic Congressmen Russ Carnahan and Lacy Clay into the same urban district in 2012 and allow voters to choose.[24] In the 112th Congress, meeting in 2011 and 2012, Clay represents the city of St. Louis and Carnahan its suburbs. Prior to Census data being publicized, with Missouri sitting on the bubble of keeping her nine seats or losing one, both members expressed optimism for the former scenario.[25]

House Speaker John Diehl (R) went to great lengths to assure citizens and the Missouri Congressional delegation alike that redistricting committee members had not already made any decisions about which seat to cut the most aggressively before detailed Census information was delivered.[26][27]

However, no one denied that any possible solution would make some office holders unhappy. Congressional members considered the most likely to lose a seat began to think of their fall back plans, namely, giving up on the House in favor of a U.S. Senate run.[28]

Potentially, the 2nd and 7th seats, respectively situated in St. Charles County and the state's southwest corner, stood to see the least change to their boundaries.[29]

Missouri also faced losing a designation the state held going into 2011, that of being home to the 'U.S. Center of Population', in Phelps County. Early guesses from Census data indicated the location might drift south, across the border into Arkansas.[30]

While Missouri did not grow fast enough to retain all her seats, the state did grow 7 percent, meaning that most House and Senate Districts for the state legislature would likely grow.[31]

Maps emerge

As March came to close, Missourians saw their first potential Congressional plan, HB 193. As expected, St. Louis lost a seat and, also as expected, it was Russ Carnahan who took the blow. Elsewhere in the state, the 6th District was teased out into a winding seat that covered much of the rural north,[32] and the rest of state's seat were significantly reconfigured.[33]

Unveiled on Thursday, March 31, 2011, the map broke Carnahan's 3rd district apart, divvying up southern St. Louis and its surrounding area into three other seats. Despite pushback from St. Louis area activists, the city's declining population denied any serious credibility to suggestions that it should anchor two seats. Seeing Carnahan put into a position where he would have to primary a fellow Democrat to keep his seat was, predictably, met happily among right-leaning commentators.[34]

In the event of the map passing and Carnahan running for re-election, he would go up against veteran Lacy Clay, a difficult race and a sour prospect for Dems in the state legislature. Said House Democratic leader Mike Talboy, "I think it is unfortunate that they decided to target one district to split...We have to look at the alternatives that could be drawn and how much of a difference there is while staying in federal compliance with how those lines are shifted to make sure that we're not being sold a bill of goods.[35] Redistricting Chair John Diehl, who had long been candid about the impossibility of delivering map without losers, responded, "There are some congressmen that don't like us right now, but that's not our job."

The same map shifted two Democratic strongholds, Boone County and the city of Columbia, from one district into another.[36] While the 4th would pick up Columbia, Jefferson County would also migrate, into the 9th. Blaine Luetkemeyer's district, at the time a long sliver running from the south all the way to the Iowa border, would become the 3rd, newly incarnated as a squat block of land between Lincoln and the Lake of the Ozarks. A bid from Cole County Presiding Commissioner Marc Ellinger, a Republican, to rework some central Missouri areas, also failed.[37]

The area around the Lake of the Ozarks overall saw impressive changes. Luetkemeyer would lose 13 counties and gain all of three counties plus parts of several others. The region's other seat, at the time the 4th, would lose four counties, including Camden, seat to go to Luetkemeyer's seat, while picking up all of three and part of a fourth.[38] That move evidenced a willingness to blend urban and rural areas, something Senate redistricting Chair Scott Rupp noted but also downplayed; We don't look at voting trends, we look at the population. There will always be rural-urban mixes within districts in a state like Missouri. "[39]

Sam Graves' northern seat, the 6th, was especially reworked, gaining a dozen counties to become a 36-county giant sweeping between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.[40] Graves' seat is already bigger than any one of America's five smallest states, and he makes use of his pilot's license to cover it, a fact that both he and Rep. Diehl joked about as the new map was presented.

That proposal was hardly treated as good news all around. The 6th was a northwestern district and was proposed to become the northern district in Missouri. Graves made his home in the extreme northwest corner of the state, potentially putting him well away from his constituents in more than distance. The initial map also featured what was immediately called a gerrymander - an improbably shaped tentacle that dips down from the edge of the new seat and nearly bisected Randolph County.[41]

On Monday, April 18th, Republican members of the Congressional delegation and key legislative Republicans sequestered themselves for a meeting in which resolving lingering difficulties over maps and making sure party leaders were on board were thought to be top agenda items.[42][43] When participants in the meeting spoke to the press, whether the consensus had been for the House or for the Senate versions depended very much on who was commenting, with meeting attendees reporting the decision had been in favor whatever chamber they represented.[44]

The map that eventually went to Governor Nixon only to earn his veto moved Columbia into a new district, aligning it with counties to the south and the west of its prior location.[45] However, it remained in a mostly rural area. The 5th and 6th both took on more strongly the political flavor they already had, respectively becoming more Democratic and more Republican. Polk County, split between the 4th and the 7th, was moved entirely into the later and the Lake of the Ozarks became part of the border between the two districts.[46][47] The 6th spanned the distance from the Missouri to the Mississippi Rivers and gained ii counties, a 5,300 square mile expanse bigger than Connecticut.[48]

House action

Figure 2: This map shows the Missouri Congressional Districts proposed in the April 11, 2011 version of HB 193
Figure 3: This map shows the Missouri Congressional Districts proposed in the April 13, 2011 version of HB 193

Diehl pointed out that the map was meant to be a starting point for public comment and that formal, public hearings were still to come. However, he also emphasized the need to move quickly and said he would like to have a fully worked out Congressional map on the legislative floor sometime in the first full week of April.[49]

Democrats were quick to respond with a map of their own, proposed by Ron Casey and released through John Diehl's office. Both Casey's and Diehl's maps placed some rural territory into seats that were mostly urban under the 112th Congress, though they differed on leaving Jefferson County intact or, as Diehl wanted, splitting it in three.[50] Concern over seeing rural residents left as minorities in districts focused overwhelmingly on urban issues prompted another Democratic lawmaker, Joe Aull, to propose a slight change to Casey's plan to keep rural voters together.[51] Aull's amendment ultimately failed.[52] The bill, though, passed 106-53 on a floor vote on April 6, 2011.[53]

The House, in the morning of Thursday, April 14, 2011, rejected the first version of the Senate map sent to them and requested a conference, a request that Senate leadership initially ignored.[54][55]

Anticipating a veto and needing to gather votes to break it, legislative Republicans moved to push the entire schedule up, planning to give themselves time to react if the Governor exercised his prerogative.[56] Under Missouri law, the Governor has 15 days to return a veto, 45 if lawmakers are in recess; the practical reality of this is that a redistricting bill had to get to Nixon's desk more than 15 days before sine die or wait until the autumn veto session.

Though initially hoping to hand a map to Governor Nixon on Monday, the 18th of April, the House instead abruptly adjourned that afternoon, while still waiting to hear from the Senate on the invitation to conference.[57] After the state's top Republicans met to discuss redistricting, the House renewed its request to the Senate for a conference and was still waiting for a reply on the 19th of April.[58] The Senate finally voted, after holding a closed door session, to send both versions of the map to conference early in the April 20th session.[59][60]

However, with pressure to have something finished by the end of the day on Friday in order to deliver a bill to Governor Nixon by sine die, deadlock wore on.[61][62]

Senate action

Toward the end of the legislative day on Monday, April 4, 2011, Republicans in the state Senate endorsed the House plan, though they ended the day still debating their own map, SB 264.[63]

Rep. Casey's efforts to save Carnahan was ultimately for naught. On April 5, 2011, on a 4-7 party line vote, the committee defeated his map and sent the original plan authored by Diehl on to the full House by a 10-1 vote.[64] Diehl's map passed the full House 106-53 on Wednesday, the 6th. An impressive vote tally, but three short of what was needed to guarantee overriding a gubernatorial veto. While Diehl brought four Democrats on board, he lost three Republican votes, the exact margin he would have needed to have the luxury of ignoring Jay Nixon's threat of a veto.[65]

Two floor amendments both failed. Casey again introduced an alternative to make the new 2nd District more Democratic, which died on a painful 99-57 vote. The other came from Michael Colona, the Minority Whip, and would have reconfigured the third. It also died, 106-51.[66]

Responding to Carnahan's insistence that, while St. Louis shrank, the city's metropolitan area still topped two million, a number that could easily justify three Congressmen, Diehl quipped, "No doubt, the St. Louis metropolitan area has just under two million people, though it depends on where you draw the lines. "Every one of those people will be represented by a congressman, just as they are right now."[67]

Also on the 5th, the Senate passed a map out of committee 7-0, one that tailed quite closely with the House version, though there were slight differences in central Missouri.[68] While Diehl was optimistic about the ability to integrate the two maps, the Senate plan got some points from citizens as it, unlike the House version, avoided splitting Polk County between two seats.[69]

The following week, the House version of the map was passed narrowly by the Senate committee in a 4-3 vote.[70] That it bore strong similarities to the Senate's own map, which passed unanimously, yet came within one vote of failing concerned the Senate bill's sponsor, Scott Rupp.[71]

However, opposition to the original bill, specifically splitting Polk County between the 7th and 8th Districts, threatened to block the map's passage in the House.[72] That sentiment grew once debate got underway.[73] Republican Senators saw too much left-leaning territory being moved into GOP districts; Democrats found fault with the way particular counties were divided, and rural lawmakers resisted seeing their seats mingled with urban tracts.[74]

On April 13, 2011, the Senate passed its own map, 22-11[75], despite attempts from several Senators to block it. It concurred with the House bill on splicing Carnahan's seat but differed on Jefferson County and rural portions of central Missouri.[76] A vote to reconsider, pulled together during a recess, failed 10-22.[77]

Conference and veto

On the morning of April 22, 2011, after an all-night session, the House approved another map and handed it over to the Senate, who adjourned for the Easter holiday without looking at the map.[78][79] Senators rejoined the House Conference briefly at about 2:30 am just to sign the conference report before again leaving. House members declined to sign.[80] Some members of the lower chamber pointed to the lack of a district just for the state's central region to explain their holding out.[81] Rep. Diehl, though, easily won the contest for most quotable comment when he said, "I think we're close, but obviously we're far."[82]

Passing 91-47 on a voice vote, the map had been retitled as SB 68.[83] SB 68 was initially a bill concerning the subpoena power of the state Senate, and had seen the substance of the redistricting bills added on to it. The Senate then had the option of agreeing to SB 68 or continuing the conference with the House on HB 193.

At the end of the week, one Democratic Senator, Assistant Minority Leader Jolie Justus, sought to lighten the mood by coloring in a blank map of Missouri with an irreverently annotated set of districts - drawn in crayon.[84] Her map, shared via Twitter, was a rare light note in the negotiations as Senators accused the House of being too easily swayed by the whims of Congressmen and the House retorted that Senators weren't taking the process seriously.[85]

Senate Chair Scott Rupp expressed his dismay at the growing disarray, saying, "I've said before my job is to carry the football across the goal line, and it's hard if every day you wake up and the goal line has been moved."[86] Meanwhile, the press also invoked a sports analogy in wistfully contrasting Missouri's slow progress to that of Iowa, the "Field of Dreams."[87]

Media were also quick to note that the fighting was largely a Republican intra-party matter, and the Democrats lacked enough legislative seats to force much action.[88]

With limited protest from the minority, the House passed a map 96-55 on Wednesday, and the Senate concurred 27-7.[89] What criticism there was centered on the fact that the chamber's traditional procedure had been suspended to pass the map, but such a step is a common in the final days of Missouri's legislative session. The ironically titled "Grand Compromise" then headed to the governor's desk,[90] having ironed last-minute hiccoughs, such as the house that originally was bisected by a Congressional boundary.[91]

That the Senate did not filibuster the bill was good news, but no sooner was the map passed and on its way to Governor Nixon than the Democrats issued a press release publicly calling for a gubernatorial veto. Dems also said they had a unanimous voice vote in caucus backing that request and began an online petition (dead link) to the same effect.[92] If true, that would have crushed Republican hopes for overcoming a veto, as they need to pick up a handful of defectors to have a supermajority. In the House, three Democrats and six Republicans broke rank to vote, respectively, noe and aye on the bill. Another nine members did not cast a ballot.[93]

Representative Joe Aull, a Democrat, took the step of adding a formal protest about the map on constitutional grounds, something that was included when the bill went to Nixon's desk.[94] It was in the House that the map faced problems. The Senate vote was taken on a large enough margin to override a gubernatorial veto; the House needed to gain 13 votes. Thus, even if the GOP could corral the votes of six Republicans who voted against the map and six more who did not vote, and hold onto the three Democrats who voted for the map, leadership would still require one more Democrat to cross the aisle.[95]

Committee Chair John Diehl was publicly optimistic that he could come up with enough votes to override any veto.[96] Meanwhile, House leadership weighed in on the process, with Speaker Steven Tilley calling it an overall "positive" process and Minority Leader Mike Talboy instead labeling the negotiations as, "a textbook example of how not to [redistrict]..."[97] Talboy also said he felt he had the votes to block an override, something that would require Democratic unanimity plus four Republican votes.[98]

As had been anticipated, Nixon did veto the map, sending it back to the legislature on Saturday, April 30, 2011; in his veto, the Governor said the map inadequately represented Missourians and that he hoped the legislature would have something for him before they adjourned over the summer.[99][100]

Veto Override

Republicans moved to override the veto the instant Nixon announced his decision.[101] At least one member indicated it would be easier to build a veto-breaking coalition than to redraw the map. It took them only days to produce Missouri's first veto override in eight years.

However, it required perfect attendance from House Republicans, meaning Bill Reiboldt, who had been admitted to the hospital late on the night of May 3, 2011 checked himself out for two hours to attend the floor vote. John Diehl explained it simply to the press; "He wanted to be here."[102]

On May 4, 2011, the Senate and House each procured sufficient votes to override Governor Jay Nixon's (D) veto. Four Democrats were needed to vote with the GOP in the House. The fourth and final vote in favor of the plan was cast by Leonard Hughes (D) of Kansas City. Hughes -- who after the vote was reported to be crying -- said he voted for the plan because his Congressman (Emanuel Cleaver) requested he do so.[103] Cleaver refused to give an official statement immediately after the vote, simply remarking, "I don't have a reaction. I haven't had time to take it all in." Hughes waited for the floor vote sitting alone, with his hands covering his face.

With a final vote of 109-44, the other three House Democrats to vote in favor of override were:

Hughes and Brown hailed from Cleaver's 5th District while Hubbard and Nasheed held seats inside Clay's district. The racial component of who had crossed the aisle and of which Congressmen benefited was not lost on the media, nor were the four Dems who helped override the veto shy about admitting it. Rep. Nasheed stated, "I'm black before I'm a Democrat."[104] Nasheed and Hubbard both had some reason for their vote; the map Democrats favored placed the two in one district, where one of them would have possibly seen their political career end in a bitter primary loss.[105] Brown, also the Chair of the Black Caucus, later said the Caucus had not taken any public position on the map due to members' diverging interests, and that each Caucus member had been told to vote in their districts' best interests.[106]

Later that day, the upper chamber followed suit, reiterating what it had already done, knocking down the veto 28-6. The Senate was a decidedly less dramatic show; as Scott Rupp put it, "Anything that tough is difficult enough, but to have bipartisan support on something like this speaks very very loudly of what we are about."[107] That the Senate actually added one 'aye' above the initial vote to pass the map seemed to give Rupp some grounds for his boast.

Governor Nixon, now resigned to the map's passage, reiterated his disappointment while officials of both major parties made the requisite press releases.[108] His office would not comment on any meetings he may or may not have had with legislators of either party. Hughes, the Democrat whose vote broke the veto, indicated he might expect something in return for his vote. He admitted the Republicans had made offers but declined to state anything more; speculation turned to a handful of projects in his district that would require tax credits and other legislative support.[109] One other Democrat, who finally cast a 'noe' vote, said the offer the GOP made her included a promise of "rock-star status."

Joe Aull soon said he hoped someone would bring a lawsuit, though he seemed unlikely to file one himself.[110]

In the press, it was pointed out that even a contested and vetoed map beat court-drawn boundaries.[111]

Key differences

Largely in agreement, the few differences between the House and the Senate were still telling. Not surprisingly, the areas of contention were in the St. Louis area and the center of the state. The House plan grouped rural land in with portions of urban centers in the new 5th and 8th seats, an idea that proved problematic for some Senators. Residents of Jefferson County specifically took exception to sharing a district with any part of St. Louis.[112] The County ultimately was, however, split into thirds.[113]

A specific concern was that erring on the exact balance could put too much of a given district's power on its urban portion, rather than on smaller cities.[114] In the case of the 8th, the House proposed moving 100,000 residents of Jefferson County into a largely rural seat; the Senate wanted to move on 42,000 people.[115]

Additionally, rural residents turned out to complain about the plight of Callaway County, split prior to the 2010 Census and not unified under the first plans, and Boone County, moved into a new district for the first time in decades.[116]

Potential incumbent face-off

Lacy Clay and Russ Carnahan, a pair of liberal Democrats whose districts sat in the St. Louis area, united to push back against Diehl's plan. Carnahan would see his seat dismembered and his own home placed into Clay's seat. Republicans described cutting a seat from St. Louis as a necessity when the city had 320,000 and Congressional seat across the nation average three-quarters of a million. In a joint statement, however, Clay and Carnahan cited "partisanship over fairness."[117]

Clay, as of 2012, was a six-term congressman who succeeded his own father, while Carnahan is the son of former Governor of Missouri. If their united front failed to sway Republicans legislators, the two would likely end up in a bitter primary for the same seat.[118] In defending saving two seats for the swindling city of St. Louis, both men cited that the area has had two in the past, making it an issue of tradition of playing up the cultural variations in the areas that, they argue, require two congressmen.

The issue reflected a statewide trend of redistricting becoming a territorial issue, with regions across the state facing off over how they had, or had not, been drawn.[119] If Carnahan did not succeed in preserving his seat, early rumors were that he might seek the lieutenant governorship, in 2012.[120]

Russ Carnahan

Carnahan's hopes still had some grounding in Governor Nixon's threat of a veto, a chance that Diehl described as "very high." Scott Rupp seconded that, saying, "I have to go under the assumption that he will veto this."[121]

Yet, according to Politico, Carnahan was overheard losing his temper with Clay, telling his fellow Congressman, "..."f*** you...thanks for your help" after Carnahan allegedly demanded that Clay call in a favor to push Governor Nixon to veto any bill that didn't preserve a district for Carnahan and Clay refused.[122] According to the same site, Emmanual Cleaver, the last of Missouri's three Democratic Congressmen, was refusing to take Carnahan's phone calls. The next day, Carnahan flatly refused to discuss the incident with the press.[123]

There was little doubt Carnahan intended to run for something, as he kept up a daunting schedule of fundraising, with equally impressive returns.[124] If, however, the map went through, Carnahan's chances against Clay looked very bad indeed.[125]

Clay took a confident tone in discussing his plans. After private meetings with lawmakers, he spoke to press at the state Capitol, assuring anyone who cared that, "I will run for re-election and I will win decisively... I’ve been running (for office) for 27 years. And I’ve had primaries where I’ve been outspent. How about that?...I don’t fear any opponent."[126]

While St. Louis lost a district, the new map was not necessarily a clean delineation of the city.[127] Carnahan had over a quarter million dollars in the bank on the day Nixon's veto collapsed and had not yet indicated whether he would force a primary or run in a new district.[128][129] Were he to turn his attention to the new 2nd District, the same Tea Party Republican who lost a tight race to Carnahan in 2010 announced his own intention to seek the office shortly after the veto override.[130]

One hardly sanguine assessment made Carnahan's only hope of staying in politics convincing his sister Robin not to run for releection to her Secretary of State and then seeking that office.[131] Elsewhere, rumors floated that, assuming Todd Akin gave up his eastern Missouri seat for a Senate run, Carnahan would relocate and run there.[132][133] Akin did indeed announce a Senate bid, but Carnahan remained quiet about his own plans.[134]

Carnahan got some support when Steny Hoyer, Maryland's senior Democrat, went stumping with him.[135] Though Hoyer was discreet about what Carnahan was planning to do, the fact that the House Minority Whip was helping Carnahan with fundraising suggested a challenged to a fellow incumbent was not in the cards.[136] The same weekend, Carnahan attended a party event in Kansas City, strides away from his own district. He remained coy, saying only that he and his staff were assessing every option and that he would take time in making a decision.[137] A sufficiently blood GOP primary, possible given the number of Republicans who immediately jumped in the race, could leave Carnahan in the best position for the 2nd.[138]

On February 28, 2012, Carnahan filed to run against Lacy in the District 1 Democratic primary.[139]

Legislative maps

The state level process differs slightly from the Congressional model, which follows the legislative pattern. State maps are drawn by commissions. Also, handling the maps was to be less politically perilous than the Congressional maps, as the loss of a seat doesn't directly affect maps for the House and Senate.

An early proposal to shrink the size of the House failed 9-7 in Committee.[140] Sponsor Eric Burlison said he had hoped to cut costs by an estimated $4.7 million a year, and reduce the number of frivolous bills introduced each session.

Had it succeeded, it would have appeared on the 2012 ballot as the Missouri Decrease Number of Representatives Amendment (2012). The Senate already endorsed a bill to cut 60 House seats effective after the 2020 Census.

The commissions' first meeting was expected sometime in early April.[141] They went to work with an August 18, 2011 deadline for a tentative plan and one month beyond that for the final plan.[142] Public hearings followed in May, beginning on the 22nd.[143][144] The Senate and House each had a distinct committee, but they scheduled hearings together for the sake of public input.[145][146][147][148]

Ideal Senate districts were at 176,145, with House seats at 36,742.

Since 1970, Missouri has not accomplished redistricting legislatively, making it a goal of 2011 to avoid the courts. Republicans were primed to protect their Congressional majority. Representative Barney Fisher, who sat on the redistricting committee, candidly stated his concerns; "My fear is if we don't get an agreement, some judge will say, 'OK, let's just go with four Democrats and four Republicans' and we Republicans will lose our 6-3 advantage."[149]

Counties had been quietly putting together their maps at the same time and some, such as Jackson County, were finished without partisan fireworks before legislative hearings commenced, adding to the pressure on the committees to get it right.[150]

That hardly meant legislative redistricting had a pass on the perils at the Congressional level. St. Louis had shrunk; the egos of its elected officials had not. Cutting seats to reflect population drops meant putting incumbents in shared seats and making them face off.[151] Plans to split the city provoked immediate anger; "You essentially create a Mason-Dixon line in the city," said state Senator Robin Wright-Jones.[152] While shifting representation away from St. Louis at the federal level had most heavily affected Democrats, proposals to cut the number of state legislative districts did not go down well on both sides. Republicans joined in pressing for keeping eight Senate seats in St. Louis County, saying the area was too much of an economic driver to lose representation.

State House seats got a slightly better start when a draft map, Skaggs-Davis No. 1, named for sponsors Trent Skaggs and Marlene Davis, was rolled out at a Jefferson City meeting.[153]

Chamber commissions deadlock, courts to draw maps

The House and Senate bi-partisan redistricting commissions failed to agree on a new plan for Missouri's legislative districts. The deadline for selecting a plan passed on Thursday, August 18. The House commission held its last meeting on Friday, August 12, determining that a compromise was impossible prior to the deadline. Similarly, the Senate deadlocked on Tuesday, August 16, abandoning efforts to complete maps. The task moved to a special commission of state appellate court judges.[154][155][156][157][158]

The following are clips from commission meetings:

Excerpts from August 12 House Redistricting Commission meeting[159]

Excerpts from August 16 Senate Redistricting Commission meeting[160]

Judicial panel seeks input

On October 13, the judicial panel tasked with redrawing Missouri’s legislative districts heard public testimony at a hearing in Jefferson City. The Appellate Apportionment Commission, which consists of six appeals court judges, also heard testimony from lawmakers involved in the deadlocked redistricting commissions. The judicial panel had to complete maps by mid-December.[161][162]

Judicial panel completes maps

Missouri's judicial redistricting panel, which took over after lawmakers failed to reach a compromise, finalized the state's new legislative redistricting maps. Released on November 30, the plan featured significant changes to the state's House districts. The new map left 55 House districts vacant and 26 districts with more than one incumbent. 34 Republicans were paired while only 23 Democrats were paired. The Senate saw much less change: only two incumbents were paired. The new districts would be used in the 2012 election. Although the plans were likely to stand, concerns about closed-door meetings and divided counties were raised.[163][164]

Nixon appoints new commission

Following the Missouri Supreme Court's rejection of the court-drawn Senate redistricting maps, the process went back to square one. On Tuesday, January 31, Gov. Jay Nixon appointed a new bipartisan commission to redraw the chamber's districts. The earlier commission deadlocked, prompting court intervention. Meanwhile, Sen. Jason Crowell (R) proposed a constitutional amendment subjecting the panel to the state's sunshine laws. Also, as directed by the state Supreme Court, a challenge of the state’s House redistricting plans went to a state circuit court. The commission met for the first time on February 18.[165][166][167]

  • The Governor's press release listing the appointees can be found here.

Commission draws new maps

The bi-partisan panel tasked with redrawing Missouri's Senate districts approved a new plan on February 23, redrawing the 34-district map. The plan faced a 15-day public comment period before the plan could be officially approved by the panel. Backlash over the plan was swift. Senate Republicans denounced the plan and blocked an extension to the candidate filing period, complicating matters for potential candidates. Most notably, the plan weakened Republican districts around St. Louis and pairs incumbent Senators Jane Cunningham (R) and Brian Nieves (R).[168][169]

Commission hears testimony, encounters opposition

The bipartisan redistricting commission heard testimony on its preliminary maps on Thursday, March 8. One of the lawyers for the recently-filed lawsuit was present to testify. A final vote on the maps was scheduled for Monday, March 12. Several senators -- including Jane Cunningham (R), Jim Lembke (R), and Eric Schmitt (R) -- expressed opposition to the preliminary plan.[170]

Commission approves plan, lawsuit dropped

On March 12, Missouri's bipartisan redistricting commission approved a new redistricting plan for the state Senate. The plan included a few adjustments from the preliminary map. The first maps had angered St. Louis area Republicans and triggered a lawsuit over the population balance between urban and rural districts. The final plan tweaked the St. Louis districts and somewhat evened population disparities across the state. The following Tuesday, the lawsuit was officially dropped in response to the modifications.[171]

Legal Issues

Democrats sue to block map

On September 23, a group of Democrats filed suit to block Missouri's new congressional districts, calling the plan "overreaching" and "highly egregious." The group was supported by the National Democratic Redistricting Trust. The lawsuit argued that the districts are neither compact nor contiguous and that they unnecessarily divide and dilute voters in St. Louis and Jefferson County. State Party Chair Matt Teter said that he only learned of the suit the day it was filed. Teter added that he supported the idea of a court-drawn plan.[172][173]

  • See lawsuit petition here. (dead link)
  • Listen to an interview with the plaintiff's attorney here.

AG ask court to dismiss lawsuit

The Missouri Attorney General's office asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit. The AG's filing contended that the plaintiffs failed to show that lawmakers ignored the compactness criterion or lacked a rational basis for drawing districts as they did.[174]

KC Republicans file suit

A group of Kansas City Republicans also challenged the congressional map arguing that the lines, especially those for District 5, were drawn for the sole purpose of protecting incumbents.[175]

Judges' maps faces questions as lawsuits face dismissal

Less than a week after the judicial redistricting panel approved new legislative districts, there was speculation that the new lines may be challenged. Critics pointed to several county splits that they contended were not required by county population figures. The Missouri Constitution mandates that "no county lines shall be crossed except when necessary to add sufficient population to a multi-district county or city." Although the rationale for the panels actions was not known, it was possible that the splits were designed to compensate for new minority-districts--an action permitted under the Voting Rights Act.[176]

Meanwhile, a judge handling two challenges to Missouri's congressional districts was expected to dismiss both cases. If the cases were dismissed, an attorney for the plaintiffs promised an immediate appeal to the State Supreme Court. Attorneys for the state argued that despite charges of gerrymandering, plaintiffs had failed to show that new districts violated compactness requirements.[177]

Lawsuits dismissed, appeal filed

On December 13, just days after a judge dismissed two lawsuits against Missouri's congressional map, plaintiffs in the Democratic lawsuit filed an appeal with the Missouri Supreme Court. The other challenge, filed by Kansas City Republicans, was also dismissed but was not appealed.[178]

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Mike Talboy (D) called for revisions to the state's court-drawn House plan. Approved on November 30, the House plan took criticism for splitting several counties around the state. The Senate plan, which raised similar concerns, was revised by the judicial panel. The Missouri Constitution only allows county-splits when necessary to supplement districts in multi-district counties. The commission acknowledged that this provision weighed on its decision to revise the Senate map, but did not concede that the restriction applied to court-drawn maps.[179] State Sen. Jason Crowell (R) called for a constitutional amendment that would subject future judicial panels to the state's Sunshine Law.[180]

Legislators press for judges' documents

After sharply criticizing the legislative districts drawn by a panel of judges, Missouri lawmakers representing both parties requested records from the judicial process under the state's open records law. It was not clear whether the judicial panel is subject to the law, and at least one legislator has called for a constitutional amendment to guarantee that future panels are bound by the law.[181][182]

Judicial maps challenged, Sup. Court to hear lawsuits

On Wednesday, January 4, attorney David Brown of Columbia filed suit against Missouri's State Senate redistricting plan. Despite revisions to the court-drawn plan, Brown argued that the map still inappropriately divided counties and, due to staggered Senate elections, would leave at least one district without representation until 2014. He also maintains that the court had no authority to revise its redistricting map after giving it final approval.

  • Brown's petition can be found here.

Senate maps overturned, other lawsuits continue

On January 17, the Missouri Supreme Court overturned the state's Senate redistricting maps. The court found that the Senate plan unconstitutionally divided counties. The court also addressed two lawsuits concerning Missouri's new congressional districts, ordering a lower court to review the maps for compactness -- the lower court had initially rejected the lawsuits without considering the question.[183][184]

After these successes for redistricting opponents, a lawsuit was filed against the new state House plans with the Supreme Court. The court declined to hear the case and directed plaintiffs to file the case in state circuit court. (The lawsuit was re-filed in circuit court on January 27, 2012.[185]) A new 10-member redistricting committee, composed of residents, would be appointed by the Governor to redraw the Senate maps. It was unclear if the revision process would be completed in time for the February 28 candidate filing deadline.[186]

Congressional maps upheld

On February 3, a Missouri Circuit Court judge upheld the state's congressional redistricting plan. The judge had previously dismissed the lawsuit, but was ordered by the Missouri Supreme Court to consider the case on the merits. The plaintiffs were expected to appeal to the state State Supreme court. They argued that the maps violate the Missouri Constitution's compactness requirement. Rep. Russ Carnahan (D) expressed support for the lawsuit, presumably hoping to restore his former district eliminated under the map.[187]

Cases move forward, filing to be delayed

On February 16, the Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments in the legal challenge of the state's congressional districts. The case was appealed after a lower court found the new map constitutional. The lower court had initially dismissed the case, but was ordered by the Supreme Court to consider the case on the merits. Meanwhile, a county circuit judge upheld Missouri's state House districts. This case too was expected to be appealed. In light of these legal challenges, the Missouri State Senate voted to delay the beginning of the filing period for state candidates from February 28 until March 27. The bill moved to the House.[188][189][190]

Supreme Court considers house plans

On February 27, the Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments in a lawsuit challenging the new state House maps. The House maps were already upheld by a lower court, but so were the State Senate maps prior to their rejection by the state Supreme Court. The House maps were drawn by a panel of judges.[191]

New Senate districts were drawn by a freshly-appointed bi-partisan commission, but these districts face a two week public comment period and possible litigation. Along with the uncertainty facing the state House maps, Missouri candidate filing was in a state of confusion. Nevertheless, election officials reported that candidate filings were up from 2008. The filing deadline for candidates was March 27.[192][193]

Delay possible

The Missouri Supreme Court missed a scheduled hand-down day as candidates waited for it to rule on challenges to the state's congressional and state House districts, posing a concern that it would miss the March 27 filing deadline.[194]

State House maps upheld

On March 27--Missouri's candidate filing deadline--the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the state's House of Representatives maps.[195] On May 25, the Missouri Supreme Court issued an opinion elaborating on its approval of the state House districts.[196]

  • The state House ruling can be found here.

Lawsuit filed against revised Senate maps

On March 2, a federal lawsuit was filed challenging Missouri's tentative Senate redistricting maps. The maps in question were a revision of earlier maps already struck down by state courts. The lawsuit argued that the revised maps discriminated against rural areas by placing too many voters in several rural districts, thus reducing the number of districts alloted to rural Missouri.

The lawsuit also contended that changes to district numbering would disenfranchise voters by making them wait longer to vote in the state's staggered Senate elections. Only half of Missouri's senators are up for election at each biennial election--odd numbers in 2012, evens in 2014. As a result, some voters who had already waited four years to elect senators might be forced to wait another two if they're moved from an odd-numbered to an even-numbered district.[197]

Commission approves plan, lawsuit dropped

On March 12, Missouri's bipartisan redistricting commission approved a new redistricting plan for the state Senate. The plan included a few adjustments from the preliminary map. The first maps had angered St. Louis area Republicans and drawn a lawsuit over the population balance between urban and rural districts. The final plan tweaked the St. Louis districts and somewhat evened population disparities across the state. The lawsuit was dropped in response to the modifications.[198]

Supreme Court upholds U.S. House plan

On May 25, the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the state's new congressional districts. The map generated controversy by pairing William Lacy Clay (D) and Russ Carnahan (D). Plaintiffs argued that the maps violated the Missouri Constitution's compactness requirement.[199]

  • The congressional ruling can be found here.

Reform legislation

"Missouri Fair Elections Act"

Missouri representative and Secretary of State hopeful Shane Schoeller (R) proposed legislation dubbed the "Missouri Fair Elections Act." The bill would have replaced Missouri’s existing bi-partisan redistricting process with a nonpartisan one modeled after Iowa’s. Earlier in 2011, Missouri’s state redistricting process stalled and was turned over to the courts. The bill would have also addressed state ballot measure law and create a photo-ID requirement for voting. Schoeller was House Speaker Pro Tem at the time.[200]

Open redistricting meetings

On March 6, the Missouri State Senate approved a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment to subject the redistricting commissions to the state's open meetings laws. House approval was still required.[201]


In 2011, legislators filed the redistricting bill on January 13, 2011, establishing that Missouri would have eight Districts but holding off on drawing boundaries until receipt of U.S. Census Data.[202][203] House Speaker Steven Tilley met with members of the 112th Congressional delegation later in January to outline his timeline for redistricting.[204] With the release of Census Bureau data to state officials, Rep. Diehl and Sen. Rupp announced a time sensitive schedule, one that would try to have maps drafted by May 2011.[205] To meet this goal, the chairs planned on combining resources when sensible but would be distributing the work to both chambers in order to keep on track.[206]

Under Missouri law, within 60 days of state population counts being delivered to the President, an event that occurred in December 2010, the names of Senate and House nominees to the Commission must be delivered to the Governor of Missouri. At the end of the voting process, which cannot exceed 30 days from nomination, when the commission is formed, members have 15 days to meet and elect a Chair, Vice-Chair, and Secretary. Also within that 15 day span, the commission must decide on its schedule of meetings.

The date of appointment also begins a five month period at the end of which the commissions must present maps the Secretary of State. This time may also serve for citizens to offer input and comment on tentative maps. Once submitted to the Secretary of State, the allotted time to file a 'final statement' is one month. In all, the redistricting commissions have six months from the date they are formed to complete their work.

Should either the House or the Senate commission miss the final deadline, that commission is discharged and responsibility for the maps passes to the Supreme Court. That Court appoints a six member commission from among Missouri's appellate judges, and those individuals have 90 days to deliver a complete map. If only one chamber misses its deadline, the Supreme Court's authority only extends to that commission.[207] The judicial panel, if required, must complete maps by mid-December.[208]


Deviation from "Ideal Districts"

2000 Population Deviation[209]
Office Percentage
Congressional Districts 0.00%
State House Districts 6.08%
State Senate Districts 6.81%
Under federal law, districts may vary from an 'Ideal District' by up to 10%, though the lowest number achievable is preferred. 'Ideal Districts' are computed through simple division of the number of seats for any office into the population at the time of the Census.

Constitutional explanation

With respect to redistricting, the Missouri Constitution provides authority for the two redistricting committees in detail in Section 2 of Article III.

Ballot measures

The following measures have appeared on the Missouri ballot pertaining to redistricting.

See also

External links


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  22. Columbia Missourian, "St. Louis Democrats press to keep black plurality in 1st Congressional District," December 7, 2010
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