Gov. Kelly seeks nonpartisan panel after gerrymandering talk

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly on Friday called for the creation of a nonpartisan commission to handle redrawing state legislative and congressional districts after a video surfaced that shows a top Republican lawmaker discuss how gerrymandering can help oust the state's sole Democratic member of Congress.

Senate President Susan Wagle can be seen in the video talking to a conservative Wichita group in September about the importance of winning upcoming elections. She said the wins were crucial so Republicans will have the votes to override an anticipated Kelly veto of a GOP-drawn congressional map that would make it possible to unseat U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, who represents the 3rd congressional district in the Kansas City area.

“I was going to wait on this announcement, but in light of Wagle’s comments sort of explaining how Kansas Republican leadership wants to manipulate electoral maps, I’m going to go ahead and come out now and call for a nonpartisan voting commission to be established to oversee our new electoral maps,” Kelly, a Democrat, said in a phone interview with The Kansas City Star and The Wichita Eagle.

Current state law calls for the Legislature to pass and the governor to sign new maps every decade. Wagle, who isn’t running for reelection, said on the video, “I guarantee you we can draw four Republican congressional maps.”

Wagle said Friday that redistricting is a “political process” and added that she's working to ensure Republicans are elected to serve as a check on Kelly and “make sure we have a powerful seat at the reapportionment table.”