Sen. Susan Wagle draws scrutiny over comments concerning redistricting

Sen. Susan Wagle draws scrutiny over comments concerning redistricting
Published: Oct. 9, 2020 at 4:47 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Do you choose your elected leaders, or do your elected leaders choose you? That question comes up with a video of Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle shared on social media Friday morning. In the video, Wagle appears to call for redistricting to favor Republicans in Kansas and to take Democrats out of office.

In the video, Wagle admits that some voters in Kansas are starting to swing to the left.

“We are losing northeast Kansas. It’s pro-Biden, it’s pro-Bollier, it’s pro-Sharice Davids," Wagle says in the video. “I’m very worried about this election.”

But the Republican party can maintain control if they redraw congressional lines and add more Republican neighborhoods to swing districts, Wagle indicates in the video.

“So, redistricting is right around the corner, and if Governor Kelly can veto a Republican bill, that gives us four Republican congressmen. That takes out Sharice Davids up in the third (district). We can do that,” Wagle said. “I guarantee you, we can draw four Republican district maps.”

Friday, Eyewitness News asked Wagle about the video directly. She said “a political operative” took a speech she made and clipped parts of it to take her comments out of context.

“Clearly what I was saying is that (we have a) Republican state. Right now we have a Democrat governor who does not represent our party,” Wagle said. "She is the head of the Democratic party in the state of Kansas, and she’s working very hard right now to elect Democrats. I’m the Kansas Senate President, and I’m a Republican, and I’m working very hard to elect Republicans to the legislature who will fairly draw maps when (the) session starts next year.”

She again mentioned northeast Kansas when asked if drawing four Republican congressional maps is fair for Kansas voters.

“Well clearly we’ve had the most growth in northeast Kansas and that district is going to be much smaller after redistricting than what it is today. And if the Kansas legislators want four Republican maps, I’m sure that’s what they will draw.”

The video targets Davids, the only Kansas Democrat in Congress.

“Corrupt politicians are using partisan gerrymandering to manipulate our already broken political system so it benefits their extreme agenda, not hardworking Kansans," Davids said in an emailed statement. "I believe every elected official should be accountable to the people they represent. That means we need a redistricting process that’s independent, non-partisan, and creates truly representative districts.”

Governor Kelly’s office is calling for a nonpartisan voting commission to oversee redistricting next year. Wagle said she would not support that commission.

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