The Kansas Legislature’s inability to agree on new election boundaries will delay the filing deadline for candidates seeking state and national offices.
Secretary of State Kris Kobach announced via Twitter on Thursday that the deadline has been pushed back 10 days to June 11. The primary elections are set for Aug. 7.
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The Legislature, which could miss today’s target for adjournment, has yet to agree on new district boundaries for the state Senate and House, Congress and the state Board of Education.
The filing deadline for each of those races will be delayed, and preparations have even been made for postponing the elections if needed.
The flashpoint has been the new Senate districts. The final boundaries could determine whether conservative Republicans can wrest control of the state Senate from moderates and give Republican Gov. Sam Brownback an open path to his agenda.
The House broke with tradition Thursday by approving its own plan for the Senate districts that sets up three conservative Republicans to run against moderates in the primary.
Typically, each chamber draws its own boundaries.
The House plan doesn’t give Johnson County an entirely new Senate district even though it was the fastest-growing county in the state. It does pull the district of Democratic Sen. Tom Holland of Baldwin City into southwest Olathe.
It also brings the district of GOP Sen. Chris Steineger of Kansas City, Kan., into Merriam in Johnson County.
House members have argued that the Senate played politics with the map because original plans called for cutting three conservative challengers out of the districts of moderate Republicans.
Eventually, the Senate put only two of those challengers — Reps. Greg Smith of Overland Park and Brenda Landwehr of Wichita — back in those districts. That led the House to draw its own map and enflame tensions between the two chambers.
However, House members started Thursday to portray the dispute as internal strife between Senate factions and not a feud between the two chambers.
“We are kind of in unique times due to the dysfunctional nature of the conflict that appears in the Senate,” House Speaker Mike O’Neal said.
While the Senate plan gives Johnson County a new Senate district, some Johnson County lawmakers said it’s not in the high growth areas of the county and hurts Republicans.
Although the House passed a plan Thursday, there seems to be little hope that the Senate will go along with it, possibly ultimately punting the issue to the courts.