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Republican lawmakers, advocates rally for 7-1 congressional map

by Cameron Gerber | February 15, 2022 at 11:03 p.m.
Susan Steiner, near, and Peggy Crabtree Berry bow their heads in prayer Tuesday at the beginning of a rally in the Capitol Rotunda. The women are from Warsaw and are active in political committees and were at the Consent of the Governed rally to support the 7-1 congressional map for Missouri and to tackle other issues in the forefront of today's political landscape. (Julie Smith/News Tribune)

The battle over congressional maps spilled Tuesday onto the first floor of the Capitol as dozens rallied in favor of a 7-1 map favoring Republicans.

Congressional maps fall to the Legislature to draw. After a 6-2 version similar to current districts passed the House and made it to the Senate for debate, the upper chamber remained deadlocked all last week with continuous filibusters as most of the chamber’s Conservative Caucus stood in favor of a 7-1 map.

Senate leadership tabled the conversation late last week after several attempted compromises failed to pass.

The Tuesday rally brought out several members of the Conservative Caucus to speak to the crowd.

Lawmakers took the stage in the early afternoon to discuss the fight for a conservative map, raising concerns a 6-2 map could allow Democrats to add an additional blue seat in Congress due to the way its boundaries were drawn.

Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, said Republican leadership was made up of Republicans in name only (RINOs) and called for those attending the rally to visit their senators’ offices and call on leadership to pass a 7-1 map.

“I have news for them: 51 hours later they know we’re not going to sit down and shut up,” Onder said. “It is the House and Senate leadership who are over and over again trying to shove the ‘Pelosi map’ down our throats, and that will not stand.”

Sens. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Springs, Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensberg, Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, and Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville, also addressed the crowd. The coalition was the main proponent of last week’s marathon  filibusters.

Bev Ehlen, Missouri state director of Concerned Women for America, said the event was a call to action for those dissatisfied with the way Republican lawmakers voted on the bill.

“We’re stepping in and being involved in public policy because that’s what we feel the need to do, and we’re here to encourage the Republicans who are the pro-life party supposedly to stick to the Republican platform they ran on,” Ehlen said. “It’s been quite an experience; we have people from all over the state who have woken up and joined us for this event.”

While demonstrators came from across the state, including some from as far as Kansas City, a few of them who called Jefferson City home said they were regulars at rallies in the Statehouse.

“My husband and I moved here to Missouri because it’s so conservative, but now we feel like we have some real turncoats in the Senate,” Jefferson City resident Joyce McIntosh said. “Democrats don’t vote pro-life. We want someone who will support the principles that are as closely aligned to God’s will as possible. We love these senators who are standing up for what’s right.”

Other Jefferson City residents pointed to their support of pro-life legislation and the Second Amendment, as well as concerns about the southern border, as their draws to fight for a more conservative map.

“This is going to affect our state for the next 10 years, whatever they end up setting, so it’s worth fighting for,” fellow demonstrator Roberta Glover said.

Sen. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, chairs the Senate Redistricting Committee and sponsored the bill containing the proposed map. He has voiced his support for a 6-2 map throughout the process.

“I think we should do it with our thoughts and our ideas, not just say we’re going to make this district more Republican so you can’t win,” Bernskoetter previously told the News Tribune.

He could not be reached for comment on the rally.

Despite being billed as a Freedom Trucker Convoy event in promotional material, the rally was not affiliated with the Freedom Convoy movement protesting vaccination mandates in Canada and the United States, nor did any rigs make an appearance at the Statehouse.

Law enforcement allowed one vehicle out of a locally-gathered convoy to leave their meeting place away from the Capitol every 30 minutes due to a lack of a parade permit, according to a notice from the Conservative Caucus following the rally.

Demonstrators were invited to gather in the upper gallery of the Senate chamber when lawmakers gaveled in for session later in the afternoon.

Missouri’s current congressional delegation is 6-2, favoring Republicans. The state has had eight seats since losing one after the 2010 census.

Time is of the essence for redistricting: The process must be completed by March 28, according to the Office of Administration. If no plan is approved or the plan results in lawsuits, it’s up to the courts to issue a ruling defining a new map.


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