Lincoln Republicans ‘pleased,’ some Dems disappointed by approved legislative map
After weeks of discussion and debate, redistricting maps have been approved by the unicameral and signed off on by the governor, though not everyone is happy about it.
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – After weeks of discussion and debate, redistricting maps have been approved by the unicameral and signed off on by the governor.
“My initial reaction is huge relief,” Sen. Suzanne Geist of Lincoln said. “So thankful we don’t have to drag this out until January.”
Of course, Lancaster County was a key point of contention in the redistricting special session. Some Democratic senators, including Lincoln Sen. Matt Hansen, are upset with the way things turned out.
“This is probably the most political that the legislature gets,” Hansen said. “It probably shouldn’t have come by too much of a surprise that we couldn’t get to unanimous maps.”
Hansen says the frustration of he and his colleagues stems from last minute changes to Lancaster County’s legislative map. He says on Friday, maps for Omaha and Lincoln had been agreed to. It was his understanding that there would be no changes beyond a few minor technical changes.
“Not only is it more than minimal technical changes, we’re shifting five of the 10 districts in Lancaster County significantly,” Hansen said.
A few examples of changes to legislative districts in Lancaster County include:
-The northern portion of District 25 that includes Waverly shifts to District 21
-Another portion of District 25 that includes part of northeast Lincoln moves to District 2, which includes Cass County.
-District 30, which includes Gage County and a portion of southern Lancaster County, shifts to the east and now includes a portion of south Lincoln.
Some feel these changes to the legislative redistricting map put Democratic senators in more rural, conservative areas, which could possibly jeopardize their chances of re-election.
Plymouth Sen. Tom Brandt says redistricting impacts all senators to some degree, particularly those running for re-election.
“You’ve worked with these constituents for three years,” Brandt said. “I know Senator [Megan] Hunt in Omaha is in the same boat, Senator [Myron] Dorn, Senator [Robert] Clements. And so now you’ve got a whole new set of constituents in certain areas that you’d have to go out and knock on doors. They need to get to know you. So that’s probably the thing that affects us where we’re at in the cycle.”
Geist says that it was imperative that redistricting was resolved and not pushed into January, as it would have delayed the primary election next year.
“It would have pushed the primaries back at least until June,” Geist said. “It would have piled additional work on top of all the municipalities that have to set those elections in motion.”
Ultimately, lawmakers voted 37-7 to pass the legislative redistricting map. Hansen was not one of them.
“I actually voted no on all the maps today,” he said. “I ultimately did not think this was a fair process. I ultimately not think it worked well and I wanted to show my displeasure at the end of the day.”
Nebraska becomes the third state, after Oregon and Maine, to pass redistricting maps, meaning Nebraska will keep its primary at the second week of May.
“With any compromise, no one gets everything they want and everyone gets something,” Geist said. “I think Lancaster County ended up being a great reflection of that.”
“It’s not what we were promised, it’s not what needed to happen,” Hansen said. “So for it to happen, and for it to happen at the 11th hour with almost no notice was disappointing.”
You can view the approved legislative redistricting maps here.