Missouri currently has nine seats in the US House of Representatives. Todayâs announcement by the US Census means that the state will soon be represented by one fewer member. That will rock the stateâs political establishment (think musical chairs, but with spreadsheets, vetoes, and lawyers), but it will â most likely â leave your world untouched. You will keep the same representative, at least until after the 2012 election.
This isnât novel. Missouri has been represented by as many as 16 members in the past. We lost single seats in 1980 and 1960; two seats in 1950; and three in 1930. Nor is it unexpected. I have written here many times what was at stake in a complete Census count earlier this year.
What happens next is spelled out in the Missouri Constitution. Some time next year, the state House and Senate will consider new district boundaries as a regular legislative bill. The Governor will either sign what passes the General Assembly or veto it. If he vetoes it, the General Assembly will take up his veto or a draw a new map for his approval. If all that fails, a Federal court may be asked to draw a map. If that doesnât happen for some reason, we will elect our representatives at-large. I expect that the option involving a Federal judge is one that will ultimately re-draw our districts.
I have heard plenty of speculation, mostly by their partisans, that a new map would pit US Representatives Lacy Clay and Russ Carnahan, each of whom represents part of St. Louis and St. Louis County, against each other in a primary in 2012. I think it is equally possible that the change happens in some other part of the state. Since no one really knows which House members will be affected, it is safe to expect a sharply increased amount of constituent correspondence from all of them.
I will keep you posted.