After more than 50 hours of the record-breaking filibuster on the Senate floor, the seven conservative caucus members are taking a break. That’s because Republican leadership has said there will be no more debates about the map, at least for now.
Many of the Republican Senators fighting a conservative redistricting plan that would add a Republican Congressional seat, on Wednesday voted against a bill protecting women’s sports from biological males.
Conservatives within the party say these Senators are RHINOS (Republican In Name Only) and do not now represent conservative Republican voters in their districts. They may be right. The so-called RHINOS, led by Senate President Dave Schatz, this week stripped Republican Sen. Mike Moon – one of the two most conservative members of the Senate, of all four of his committee seats.
Now, behind-the-scenes political maneuvering kicks into high gear, according to political observers. Republicans who oppose expanding the Republican representation in Congress likely want to stop the focus on the redistricting issue for now because polls indicate they’re on the wrong side among party faithful. They’ll likely bring it up again in the spring session when they think the people aren’t watching. With the prospect of a Canada-style trucker blockade around Jefferson City this week, the entrenched Republican leadership canceled the Senate session entirely on Monday and stopped all redistricting debate the rest of the week. A snowstorm on Thursday would have made it difficult for many, who are in favor of adding a Republican district, to make it to Jefferson City. (The trucker convoy was planned with minute details, but at the last second the trucker leadership pulled back, perhaps to test the response of the press and police in Jefferson City, which was greatly enhanced this week. The trucking leaders have said a convoy to Jefferson City may still be in the works for another day when the redistricting debate starts again.)
“This whole argument that this [redistricting plan] will be settled in the federal courts or the state courts, and they will decide,” states conservative leader Joshua Lehman, “That is unconstitutional. The Missouri and U.S. Constitutions both put this redistricting process in the hands of the legislature. The only thing the courts can do rule is whether a plan is constitutional or unconstitutional, and kick it back.”
Lehman also says that if there is some rush to try to get this all done before the legislative session ends, then the governor could call a special session and still get it done.
Finally, if no new redistricting map is finalized before the November 8, 2022 election, then the election would be based on the current 6-2 map. The conservative senators want a map that has 7 Republican Congressional districts and 1 Democrat representative.
–Preston Smith is a long-time Jackson County resident who tracks issues and offers news/commentary from time to time to the MetroVoice.