(Oklahoma City) A congressional redistricting plan that puts the people ahead of incumbent politicians has been filed with the state courts by the leader of the Oklahoma State Senate.
Because it ignores political interests and preserves the historic structure of the existing congressional districts, Senate President Pro Tempore Stratton Taylor said he believes the plan is the best of any offered to date.
This plan was drawn with the people in mind, not the politicians. It preserves historic communities of interest, retains the flavor of the existing districts and complies with all of the one-man, one-vote requirements. Thats what we should be focusing on, not something that is solely designed to guarantee the re-election of longtime incumbents, said Sen. Taylor.
As dictated by the US Census, the plan would reduce the Oklahoma delegation from six districts to five, but most of the new districts would be very similar to the current ones. For example, the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th districts would retain their basic make-up with the addition of one or two counties to reflect population changes. The 6th district would be renamed the 5th.
In addition to retaining communities of interest in the current congressional districts, the plan groups cities and towns with similar interests. For example, the 1st district would become the energy district, retaining most of the city of Tulsa and adding other communities with energy interests, such as Bartlesville and Ponca City. The new 4th district would be the military district, picking up Tinker Air Force Base in Midwest City and stretching into southwestern Oklahoma to include Altus Air Force Base and Fort Sill in Lawton. The new 5th district would be the agriculture district, including most of northwestern Oklahoma and picking up Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.
In order to group communities of interest together and retain the historic structure of the current districts, namely their compactness, the plan places two incumbent officeholders in the same district Frank Lucas and Ernest Istook.
Every region of the state will have an opportunity to elect its own congressman. There will be five distinct, compact districts to represent the different interests and regions of our state, said Sen. Taylor.
The latest plan is a sharp contrast to the one submitted by Governor Frank Keating. The number one consideration of that plan, according to the governor, was the protection of the five incumbent congressmen who are running for re-election. Governor Keating has repeatedly vowed to veto any redistricting plan that did not protect the incumbent politicians.
In an order to implement his incumbent protection plan, Governor Keating had to drastically redraw the current district lines, creating two sprawling districts that stretch the entire width of Oklahoma from the Kansas to the Texas border.
Sen. Taylor said the districts in his plan are far more compact than those in Governor Keatings proposal.
I think its very difficult to make the argument that you have constructed the best, most compact districts possible when two out of five of them stretch from the Kansas to Texas borders. I understand Governor Keatings desire to protect incumbents, but in this case, I dont think it best serves the interests of the people of Oklahoma, said Sen. Taylor.
The main differences between the two plans are:
Sen. Taylor has submitted his plan as evidence in Oklahoma County district court where one of several redistricting lawsuits is currently being litigated.