Kentucky's last Democratic Congressman could have his career ended by redistricting

Congressman John Yarmuth by Festival of Faiths, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0/Original

Congressman John Yarmuth by Festival of Faiths, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0/Original

Many members of Congress representing districts in states dominated by the opposite party are careful to pull their punches before redistricting. Not Kentucky’s Rep. John Yarmuth, (D-Louisville).


A member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Yarmuth has supported impeachment since December of 2017, and has been a big supporter of single-payer healthcare. He is also an outspoken supporter of gun control, and he has an A-rating from Planned Parenthood. Some of his behavior may just be habitual – he has always been this way – but with Kentucky Republicans in full control of the legislature for the first time ever, it might finally backfire.

While Kentucky does have some stipulations on how congressional maps can be drawn, they mostly focus on avoiding county splits between districts. A similar map to the one above would comply with those requirements while ensuring Yarmuth’s defeat in any of the three districts that contain a portion of his native Louisville.

New district lines are drawn by the legislature every 10 years and configuring the seats to spread out Democratic voters is easily done. The lines can be vetoed by the governor, but vetoes can be overridden with a simple majority in Kentucky. If GOP Gov. Matt Bevin is reelected, that would not be an obstacle.

Since Republicans control the state legislature and the United States Supreme Court has ruled that redistricting complaints are non-justiciable in federal court, Democrats’ only resort to save Yarmuth would be to sue in Kentucky state court. However, the Kentucky Supreme Court has a conservative majority, so a lawsuit would be unlikely to succeed.


It is also worth noting that Kentucky is just one example of where Republicans may gain seats in redistricting. The attached map illustrates where Republicans are primed to make gains after new maps are implemented. A rough estimate suggests the GOP may gain somewhere around 20-25 seats. For context, Democrats currently have an 18-seat majority in the House.

But while drawing out Yarmuth is just a question of whether the Kentucky GOP has the backbone to do it, redistricting in other states will be directly affected by elections in 2019 and 2020. The plan in future articles is to look at those elections and the possible congressional maps in states where the GOP stands to gain.

Follow @il_american on Twitter and stay tuned for more articles on redistricting.


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