GOP-backed lawsuit seeks deadline for redistricting

Wednesday, January 30th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ The chairman of the state Republican Party filed a lawsuit Tuesday asking a judge to set a deadline on congressional redistricting.

Joining GOP Chairman Chad Alexander as a plaintiff in the lawsuit was Marshal Snipes, an Oklahoma City Republican activist.

The lawsuit was filed in Oklahoma County District Court, the Tulsa World's Capitol bureau reported.

Named as defendants are Gov. Frank Keating; Senate President Pro Tem Stratton Taylor, D-Claremore; House Speaker Larry Adair, D-Stilwell; and state Election Board members Glo Henley, Kenneth Monroe and Thomas Prince, all in their official capacities.

Lawmakers in charge of coming up with a redistricting plan have said they hope to have a proposal ready before the Legislature convenes Monday and that they want to pass a bill early in the new session. But Alexander said he doesn't believe any progress is being made.

``We think they're deadlocked,'' he said. ``They haven't given us any indication they are making progress.''

He said he believes Democrats on the redistricting committees can't even agree among themselves on a plan.

The plaintiffs are not suggesting a specific date for the deadline, but instead are leaving it up to the court to set one, Alexander said.

As a practical matter, Alexander said, the latest a congressional redistricting plan could be completed would be July 10, the last day of the three-day filing period for congressional offices.

Lawmakers working on congressional districting hope to have completed their work long before then.

Oklahoma is losing one of its six congressmen because its population is growing slower than that of other states.

Keating drew a new plan that would protect all five remaining incumbents, but appeared to be designed to limit the Democrats to a single congressional seat.

Democrats have been discussing a proposal that would satisfy Keating's one-incumbent-one-district requirement by putting Rep. Ernest Istook in the 3rd District being vacated by Rep. Wes Watkins.

A spokesman for Keating said he supports the lawsuit even though he is one of the defendants.