A week and a half after the original filing deadline for the 2012 primary, federal and state legislative districts are still up in the air, with more splitting of Jessamine County likely.
On Tuesday, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd struck down the redistricting plan for state House and Senate districts, claiming the lines in the plan were unconstitutional. That plan — House Bill 1 — had moved Wilmore and the Harrodsburg Road corridor in Jessamine County into the 45th District, currently represented by Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington.
Shepherd’s ruling put the old districts back in place and set a new filing deadline for 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10. An appeal to the Kentucky Supreme Court has since been filed.
Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, said the problem with using the old maps is that districts that have shrunk would have the same representation as districts that had grown since the last redistricting.
“Without House Bill 1, Jessamine County is not going to have the same representation on the House floor that we should have by the federal constitution, a one-person, one-vote rule,” Damron said.
The change shakes up the election, as Jessamine County Republican David Thornton had registered to challenge Lee in the primary but is now back in the 39th District. Damron said he thought Thornton, who owns a business in Lexington, would have had a chance against Lee.
“We have a candidate, David Thornton, the only Jessamine countian who was running for that seat, and he’s got a legitimate chance of winning that seat in the Republican primary ... that’s under House Bill 1,” Damron said. “Under current districts, his right to run for that seat is taken away.”
Damron said the state Supreme Court is likely to hear the appeal of Shepherd’s ruling next week. He said if the appeal is granted, HB 1 districts would likely be implemented with all those who had filed for those seats by the Feb. 7 deadline.
Nicholasville Republican Matt Lockett filed Friday for the 39th District seat; he and Damron are the only candidates in that race, according to the Kentucky secretary of state’s website. Republicans Lee, Thornton and Chris Tyler of Lexington are the only three candidates registered for the 45th District.
Wilmore and the western part of Jessamine County would also get a new congressional district under a compromise plan that Damron said is likely to pass. While most of Jessamine County would stay in Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler’s 6th District, several thousand residents — including much of Wilmore — would move to the 2nd District, represented by Republican Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green.
In the 2010 election, Chandler narrowly beat Republican challenger Andy Barr, who has filed to run again this year. The current plan for congressional districts removes Republican-leaning Garrard County out of Chandler’s district along with much of historically conservative Wilmore.