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Nixon Taps Ann Wagner, Others for Redistricting

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Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A former Democratic lieutenant governor and a potential Republican U.S. Senate candidate will help to draw new districts for the Missouri Legislature.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon on Friday announced appointments to two state commissions represented evenly by Republicans and Democrats that will redraw the boundaries for Missouri’s 163 House districts and 34 Senate districts. The state constitution requires that after the census, the governor name a 10-member panel to redraw the Senate districts and an 18-member panel to redraw the House districts.

Both panels must be represented evenly by members of the two parties whose candidates received the most votes in the last gubernatorial election – the Democrats and Republicans.

The House redistricting committee includes some well-known political figures, including Ann Wagner, who previously served as chairwoman of the state Republican Party, co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee and ambassador to Luxembourg when George W. Bush was president. Wagner is considering whether to run for the U.S. Senate next year. Joe Maxwell, a former Democratic lieutenant governor, was also named to the panel.

Nixon selected Wagner instead of Catherine Hanaway, who was the first woman to serve as Missouri House speaker. Hanaway also served as a U.S. attorney in St. Louis. Republican political consultant Jeff Roe also was passed over for the House redistricting committee.

On the Senate side, the five Democrats selected include former Nixon aide Jeff Mazur, of Ashland, and former state lawmaker Doug Harpool, of Springfield. Among the Republicans chosen were Joe Passanise, of Springfield, and Cape Girardeau resident Kathy Swan, who is a member of the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education.

Several well-known Republicans were left off the Senate redistricting commission, including former U.S. Attorney Todd Graves and St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann. A Missouri Republican Party spokesman said party leaders were satisfied with the selections.

“We are excited about the list and think that they will be in a position to craft a fair map,” spokesman Jonathan Prouty said.

Both redistricting commissions have six months to draft new legislative boundaries, which must be approved by a 70 percent vote in each. Otherwise, the districts will be redrawn by a panel of six appeals court judges. Over the past decade, Missouri has grown by about 7 percent, to just under 6 million residents. But that growth has not been equally distributed across the state.

In the state’s southwestern corner, the population of Greene County, which is home to Springfield, grew by 14 percent, and the population of Christian County between Springfield and Branson grew by 43 percent. In the St. Louis-area, St. Charles, Lincoln and Warren counties grew. But St. Louis County and St. Louis city lost population since 2000.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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