What does Colby, near the Colorado border, have to do with Kansas City, Kan.?
But that doesn't appear to be stopping key Kansas Republicans from entertaining the idea of lumping western Kansas and Wyandotte County into the same congressional district.
Leading Republicans confirm that the idea is making the rounds just as the state prepares to launch its once-a-decade redistricting process.
Politicians in Kansas, or anywhere for that matter, don't always draw lines that make sense. Their primary motivator is boosting their power for years, even decades, to come.
To hear insiders tell it, Republicans who already control all four of the state's congressional seats, and probably will for years to come want to wipe out any chance that Democrats might again rise up and grab a seat or two, as they did a few years ago when Dennis Moore and Nancy Boyda corralled the two eastern seats.
The key for Republicans would be dividing the state's few Democratic strongholds into separate districts. That means separating Wyandotte County, Douglas County (home of Lawrence) and Shawnee County (home to Topeka).
Apparently, one of the few ways to do that is to wrap Wyandotte in with the "Big First," as it's called the 1st Congressional District.
Any commonalities between Wyandotte County and the Big First are nonexistent, other than that residents of both places appreciate the sunrise each day. We're talking cowboys versus city slickers, 4-H Clubs versus corner taverns.
The Big First is a monster spanning 66 counties the second most of any district in the country. It runs from the Nebraska line to Oklahoma, from the Colorado border to the Flint Hills.
The Big First is a land of ranchers and grain sorghum production, of ag subsidies and more "frontier counties" of between two and six people per square mile than it had in 1890. It's the very definition of "rural," just as Kansas City Kan., signifies "urban."
Democrats already are working overtime to ward off what they say is a nonsensical deal. But they don't have the votes. The Republicans do.
"It's blatant gerrymandering for the purpose of solidifying their dominance for decades," said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka.
He plans to raise a ruckus when the Kansas Legislature's Special Committee on Redistricting holds its first hearing from 9 to 11:30 a.m. today at the Hughes Metropolitan Complex at Wichita State University, 29th Street North and Oliver. Additional meetings are scheduled for 3 to 5:30 p.m. today at Hutchinson Community College, and in Salina and Manhattan on Wednesday, in Chanute and Pittsburg on Aug. 2, in Overland Park and Lawrence on Sept. 2, in Kansas City and Leavenworth on Sept. 30, in Dodge City and Garden City on Oct. 19, and in Colby and Hays on Oct. 20.
Combining the Big First with Wyandotte County "would defy sanity," said veteran state lawmaker Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City.
Haley wonders whether a map that links the far west with the far east could withstand a court challenge.
But goofy districts still get drawn. Exhibit A: Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver's newly redrawn 5th Congressional District, which resembles the top half of a humpback camel.
Dodge City, Smith Center and Kansas City, Kan., all together in the same boat?
I've seen stranger things.