Saturday, March 17, 2012

Republican Racism Example #39: Keep My State Senate District As White And Rich As Possible, Kansas State Rep. Says

What’s wrong with Kansas?  Author Thomas Frank asked this question in the title of a recent book about that state’s extreme right-wing politics.  The answer, according to Republican Kansas State Rep. Brenda Lanwehr of Wichita, is that there are too many black, brown and poor people in the state

Kansas State Rep. Brenda Landwehr believes that her "primarily Caucasian" state Senate district represents a "community of interest" that the Legislature should protect.

Because of the 2010 census, state legislatures are redrawing Congressional, state Senate and state House districts across the country.  In Kansas, Landwehr complained about a new state redistricting map that would incorporate more minorities and poor people in her “primarily Caucasian” state Senate district. She is running for state Senate this year in the Republican primary. 

“Gerrymandering an area of Wichita, where primarily Caucasian voters reside, in homes that are upwards of $800,000 and more in price, violates committee rules and federal redistricting guidelines,” Landwehr was quoted testifying to the state redistricting committee, according to The Topeka Capital-Journal

As the Huffington Post reported yesterday, Landwehr’s current Senate district is 84 percent white and only 4.5 percent African American.  The Kansas Legislature is considering combining her Senate district with that of incumbent Democrat Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudreau, whose district is poorer, and is 45 percent white and 36 black.   To get to the fall election, Landwehr will first have to defeat moderate Republican Sen. Jean Schodorf, also of Wichita, in the fall GOP primary.  Schodorf expressed shock at Landwehr’s comments, which she characterized as “highly inappropriate and almost racist.”

"It's very inexplicable," Schodorf told a Huffington Post reporter. "  . . . I was really taken aback by her comments, because the area where we live, there are many economic levels and there are very, very few $800,000 houses. There might be a couple. They're just a pocket in the district. I just found the comment very inappropriate."
Landwehr said that her almost all-white neighborhood represented a “community of interest” that is supposed to be protected by election laws.  Yet, as The Huffington Post reports, “Landwehr did vote Monday against a congressional map that would similarly divide ‘communities of interest.’ State Sen. David Haley (D-Kansas City), who is black, thanked Landwehr, who is white, for taking a stand on protecting communities of interest and urged her to vote against a Republican-backed map that would place parts of Kansas City in a district with the heavily rural western part of the state. According to The Topeka Capital-Journal, Landwehr did not vote for the plan.”  (For more, see 
Landwehr, a recipient of Koch brothers’ money and a member of the Kansas GOP right-wing faction, has supported severe abortion restrictions, new, stringent voter ID laws, and has opposed Obama’s health care reforms.  She declined to return calls made by The Huffington Post.  Her phone number is 316-821-9800. (For more on this, see and

Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.

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