The Republican-controlled Missouri Legislature passed a new Congressional map late Wednesday evening, but state lawmakers failed to get enough votes to override a potential veto from Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.
The new map essentially eliminates Rep. Russ Carnahan’s (D) district, spreading it across the territory currently represented by Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R), Todd Akin (R) and William Lacy Clay (D), according to local reports.
The map passed the House 96-55, just 13 votes short of the necessary number to override Nixon’s veto. The Senate overwhelmingly passed the map, 27-7.
Nixon has kept quiet about whether he will sign the new Congressional map into law, and a request for comment left at his office Thursday morning was not returned.
If Nixon gives the bill his signature, Missouri would become the fourth state this cycle to complete its redistricting process. New maps have already been signed into law for Iowa, Arkansas and Louisiana — although the Bayou State still requires final clearance from the Department of Justice.
If Nixon vetoes the map, Missouri GOP lawmakers believe they have enough time left in the session to try to override the veto — although some local Democrats insist the state’s Constitution will not allow for it. If there’s not enough time to try to override a Nixon veto, state lawmakers will have to wait until the veto override session in September to attempt to overrule the governor.
If Nixon signs the map into law, Carnahan would be forced to run against Clay in a new Democratic-favored St. Louis-based district where he resides or to move and run against the new Republican-heavy districts where Luetkemeyer or Akin live.
Almost immediately after Wednesday evening’s votes, Carnahan’s spokeswoman, Sara Howard, emailed reporters to point out “the real headline is that House fell FAR short of the 109 votes they needed to override a gubernatorial veto” — a not-so-subtle suggestion that the governor still has the power to try to save Carnahan’s seat if he wishes.
Clay’s aides were also quick to point out late Wednesday evening that the redrawn district would be “very strong” for him, noting it would continue to be majority black. And in what could be interpreted as a warning shot to Carnahan, Clay also told the St. Louis Beacon that he would win a Democratic primary — he’s been outspent in the money chase before and emerged victorious.
“So I don’t fear any opponent. And so what you have more money in the bank than me? You’re not going to beat me. OK? That’s where I’m at,” Clay told the Beacon.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.