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MO, IL lose seats in Congress, St. Louis districts suspected targets for reapportionment

UPDATED: 4:09 p.m. Dec. 21, 2010, with information about reapportionment of Missouri congressional districts.

There’s already speculation that the Republican-dominated Missouri House and Senate will target the St. Louis-area districts held by DemocratsLacy Clay and Russ Carnahan.  But GOP House Member John Diehl, who chairs that chamber’s reapportionment committee, downplayed that possibility before reporters at the State Capitol.

“There’ve been absolutely no determinations made, there have been no maps drawn, and this committee still has a lot of work to do in front of us,” Diehl said.

Diehl says his goal is to pass a redistricting bill that can withstand court challenges and a potential veto from Democratic Governor Jay Nixon. 

Diehl also says his goal is to pass a redistricting bill with enough support from both parties.

“This committee can’t successfully draw a map unless it’s bipartisan, okay?  I have to either have a governor sign it, or I have to have sufficient Democrats come along with me to override a governor’s veto,” Diehl said.

The expanded Republican majority in the Missouri House is just a few votes short of being veto-proof, while the GOP will have a veto-proof majority in the State Senate.  Diehl says if Governor Nixon does veto the plan and if they fail to override that veto, then Missouri’s court system will redraw the congressional map.

From Earlier, more on the results of the released Census data:

Both Missouri and Illinois will lose some clout in Congress following the 2010 census.

According to the data from the US Census Bureau, the Congressional delegations of both states will shrink by one. In Missouri, that brings the state's total to eight seats (down from nine) In Illinois, the total will be 18 seats (down from 19)

The Midwest as a region gained population (3.9 percent, according to census figures) but that was a lot less than the 14 percent growth in the south and west. In fact, over the last 70 years, 79 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives have shifted to those regions.

Nevada had the highest rate of population growth (35.1 percent), while Michigan and Puerto Rico both lost population, according to the numbers. The total US population? 308,745,538 people, a growth of 9.7 percent since 2000.

“While it is disappointing that the State of Missouri will lose representation in Congress and the Electoral College, I am confident that the General Assembly will work diligently to ensure that all Missourians are represented fairly and adequately.  Once the process is complete, we believe that the legislature will have produced a fair map that passes legal muster.”  

"Today’s is unfortunate news for Missourians: we will lose a representative in the U.S. House of Representatives after 2012. That missing Missouri vote will make a big difference some time over the next ten years – whether it is a Democratic vote or a Republican one.   It is essential that the General Assembly, the Governor and the courts draw maps that give all Missourians fair and effective representation. Some want to frame today’s Census news as the trailer for an upcoming wrestling match between two Democratic House members. There will be plenty of opportunities for partisanship between now and November 2012. Today isn’t one of them."

University of Missouri political science professor David Robertson says the combined loss of a Congressional seat plus Kit Bond's retirementandIke Skelton's electoral defeat, mean Missouri will lose quite a bit of clout in the 113th Congress, which will be the first under new maps. It'll make it more difficult for the state to secure its share of shrinking federal budgets, he says.

He says Republicans, who control the Missouri General Assembly, will likely try to put William Lacy Clay Jr. and Russ Carnahan, both Democrats, into the same district. In Illinois, where Democrats control the process, Robertson says they'll likely target the 17th District, which stretches from the Iowa to the Missouri borders and has a newly elected Republican representative, Bobby Schilling.

We'll have much more on this story later, with reaction from local, state and national perspectives.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.
Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.