By Ronnie Ellis
CNHI News Service
During the last round of redistricting, state Senate Republicans tried to district long-time Democratic Sen. Walter Blevins of Morehead out of a job.
Under then President David Williams the 2012 plan would have put Blevins in the same — and for him largely new — district with Republican Sen. Robert Stivers. Blevins concluded he’d rather retire than run in a district he probably had little chance of winning.
But state courts threw those maps out; Williams himself retired; and Stivers succeeded him as President, bringing with him a new attitude of cooperation with Senate Democrats.
So the latest proposed maps don’t pit Blevins against any incumbent though it does substantially alter his 27th District which moves east, losing Boyd, Elliott and Lawrence counties while retaining his home Rowan County and Fleming County.
The district picks up Lewis, Mason, Robertson, Nicholas, Harrison and Bourbon counties and overall registration in the new 27th District is about 2-1 Democratic.
Blevins said Tuesday he hasn’t made a final decision, but he will take a serious look at running for re-election in the new district.
“It’s definitely something I will review and appraise,” said Blevins, who first came to Frankfort in 1982 as a House member and then was elected to the Senate 10 years later.
“It’s a favorable district for me and I think I can run very well in those counties. So I’m going to be keeping my options open.”
Blevins, who won’t have to make a decision until 2016, said he still regrets losing Boyd, Lawrence and Elliott counties and will continue to represent the interests of those counties’ residents until the new district maps are applied in the next election cycle.
“Until that point, I’ll continue to serve those people and when the time does come I’ll miss the people of Boyd, Elliott and Lawrence counties,” he said.
At least one of the new counties won’t be entirely unfamiliar to Blevins — he at one time represented part of Lewis County when it was in his district during a previous district map.
State legislatures must redraw legislative district maps every 10 years following the U.S. Census count to produce districts essentially equal in population size. Typically, the majority party in a legislative chamber draws the maps to protect its incumbents at the expense of minority incumbents or prospective candidates.
But the Senate map under consideration during the special session of the General Assembly pairs no incumbents and does not create any open seats. It has generally been welcomed by the Democratic minority.
Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.