U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., thinks the West Virginia Legislature and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin — not a federal court — need to redraw the state’s congressional districts, a McKinley spokesman said Wednesday.
A three-judge federal panel said Tuesday the current congressional redistricting plan is unconstitutional. If the state Legislature doesn’t fix the plan by Jan. 17, the court will create its own plan for the 2012 election.
“The congressman believes that the governor and the Legislature need to act, so that the people’s representatives — not the courts — decide how West Virginia is represented in Congress,” McKinley spokesman Andy Seré said.
A third option the Legislature has is to appeal the decision. The appeal would go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. But it must be done quickly because the filing deadline for candidates in West Virginia is Jan. 28.
Tuesday’s bombshell ruling could shake up the 2012 election by forcing a reconfiguration of the political terrain held by Reps. Shelley Moore Capito and McKinley, both R-W.Va, and Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va. All three are up for election this year.
If the Legislature doesn’t act, the court may rely on an alternate plan that would put both Republicans into the same congressional district.
Technically, people don’t have to live in the congressional district they are running to represent; they only have to live in the same state. That means Capito and McKinley could run in separate districts even if they lived in the same district. But, politically, it may expose candidates to attack if they are running to represent a district they don’t live in.
It’s not clear yet if West Virginia officials will appeal the ruling, draw a new plan or live with whatever map the court draws.
Senate President Jeff Kessler and Senate Majority Leader John Unger, both Democrats, separately indicated to the Daily Mail on Tuesday that they would like to see the Legislature fix the problem itself by Jan. 17.
But there haven’t been public indications yet from the state House of Delegates or from Democrat Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s office. But Tomblin Chief of Staff Rob Alsop told me last night that redistricting was a legislative issue, indicating it may be up to Kessler and House Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, to decide what’s next.