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Monday, Nov. 24, 2014

District lines change our political fortunes

Saturday, December 3, 2011

In terms of political bombshells for our region, Wednesday's release of new Missouri Senate and House districts ranks right up there.

A panel of appeals courts judges has worked on a redistricting plan since the release of the 2010 census data. Much of the attention has focused on the St. Louis region where the suburbs continue to grow and the city population continues to shrink.

But for our region, the new 25th Senatorial district - which includes Sikeston - will no longer include Cape Girardeau. In political terms, this is a big change.

And throughout the region and the state for that matter, politicians of both parties are scrambling to safeguard their positions.

Rest assured, the political fallout from the redistricting will be a hot topic as the details emerge. That's especially true in those two dozen or so districts statewide where incumbents face each other.

The old 27th district included both Cape Girardeau and Sikeston. With a huge population advantage, it has historically been understood that a strong candidate from the Cape region could fairly easily win the Senate seat. Former Sen. John Dennis was one of the rare exceptions to that understanding.

But now Cape is in a new district which stretches from Cape county to the north. Sikeston meanwhile becomes the population hub for the new 25th Senate district which stretches to the Bootheel. But the new district also includes Stoddard, Wayne and Bollinger counties.

It's perhaps premature to speak in specific details for our region on just what this change may bring. But believe me, political minds are in full swing trying to adjust to the new political landscape.

Some early observations seem to agree that the Senate change particularly makes sense. The new 25th is now almost exclusively rural with the removal of Cape Girardeau county. But adding Stoddard, Bollinger and Wayne county puts a unique political wrinkle to the new district as well.

It's not highly appropriate to determine winners and losers from the redistricting. But if you were to make some observations, our new Senate district gives a much greater chance for representation in the Senate to come from Sikeston.

The new House districts offer a much more complicated picture. As it now stands, it appears that Sikeston is split down the middle geographically into two House districts. One district is currently held by Republican Ellen Brandom of Sikeston while the other is held by Democrat Steve Hodges of East Prairie. That means that in some neighborhoods, one side of the street is in one district while the other side of the street is in yet another district.

But let me also point out that my somewhat upbeat analysis on Sikeston's political fortunes as a result of this redistricting are not universally shared. There are some who believe these changes don't necessarily bode for any improvement in our political futures.

As with all things, only time will tell if the courts did us a favor or did us in.



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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen