The numbers are coming, the detailed numbers from the Census Bureau, and when they get here the real work of paring nine Congressional districts down to eight begins.
Interest seems to be high throughout the state as the time draws near to re-draw Congressional lines, effectively drawing a member of Congress out of office.
Senator Scott Rupp (R-Wentzville) guides the process in the Senate.
“I’ve had conversations in St. Louis, in Kansas City, in Jeff City and everyone has been making their requests of hey, this is what we would like to see happen. I haven’t seen one geographic region participating more than another,” Rupp said during a Capitol news conference. “Everyone’s paying attention and everyone will be affected.”
Despite Rupp’s assurances, all eyes are on St. Louis as the process starts, because the St. Louis area has three members of Congress. If nine seats are to be reduced to eight, the St. Louis area seems the logical place to start. Specifically, all eyes have been on St. Louis area Congressman Russ Carnahan. Carnahan represents the southern edge of St. Louis as well as Jefferson and Ste. Genevieve counties. He also is a Democrat, making him politically vulnerable to a legislature controlled by Republicans. The last time Missouri lost a seat was 1980 and the legislature, then in the hands of Democrats, threw Republican Congressman Wendell Bailey in a race against Democratic Congressman Ike Skelton. The re-drawn district favored Skelton, who won the incumbent showdown.
The Census Bureau is expected to release detailed information this week; information that will disclose where the population shifted in Missouri. Legislative committees will pore over not just county-by-county numbers, but numbers in Census tracks, trying to determine where to draw new lines. Congressional districts in Missouri now contain approximately 650,000 people. The new districts will grow by about 100,000 to approximately 750,000.
Rupp’s counterpart in the House, Rep. John Diehl (R-Town and Country) says losing a member of Congress changes everything.
“Frankly, I think everyone understands the status quo isn’t going to be the status quo anymore, because we’re losing a seat and everything is going to change,” said Diehl.
Once the legislative committees received the detailed 2010 Census numbers, it will begin holding public hearings and then begin trying to draw eight Congressional districts.