Same Missouri Senate seat filed for in east and west

Tuesday, February 28, 2012 | 5:20 p.m. CST

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri's 7th senatorial district drew candidates from opposite sides of the state Tuesday, providing perhaps the best illustration of the uncertainty hanging over Missouri's 2012 elections as politicians began filing for office.

The 7th District currently covers a portion of St. Louis County, based on boundaries drawn after the 2000 census. But the 7th District would be shifted to represent a portion of Kansas City in Jackson County under a tentative map approved last week by a bipartisan commission that is redrawing boundaries based on the 2010 census.

The new Senate boundaries can't be finalized until after a 15-day public comment period, and they also could be challenged in court. So in the meantime, the old boundaries remain in place — even though they are likely to be changed before the Aug. 7 primaries or the Nov. 6 general election.

On Tuesday, Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-Chesterfield, filed to run for re-election in the current 7th District. Rep. Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City, also filed for the 7th District, assuming the newly proposed boundaries will prevail.

One of the two candidates eventually will have to withdraw or be forced out of the race, because they won't comply with the residency requirements. Others also could enter the contest by the March 27 filing deadline.

For many state Senate candidates, it was worth it to file for office Tuesday even though the districts remain uncertain. That's because those who file on opening day draw numbers to see who gets listed first on the ballot, a spot that many think attracts votes. Those who file on subsequent days are listed in the order they sign up.

"If you file today, there's terrific advantages of your placement on the ballot," Cunningham said while waiting in line to file for the 7th District. "So I want to make sure that I take every option that's available to me."

Cunningham indicated that she was considering a legal challenge to the newly proposed Senate districts. She also has expressed hope that some members of the bipartisan redistricting commission could change their minds and decline to give the tentative map final approval when the panel meets again in March.

If the district boundaries end up differently than what candidates filed for on Tuesday, they can withdraw from the race later and re-file under new district numbers. To do so will cost them an additional filing fee of $100 for a state Senate district or $50 for a state House district.

Some Senate candidates said that was a small price to pay.

"I'm filing for the number that I intend to run in, as the commission has approved," Holsman said while waiting to file Tuesday for the 7th District. "If that changes, then my Senate seat will no longer be up, and I'll have to file for the House."

Holsman added: "I cannot control what happens to the maps. So given my options and opportunities, I felt filing this morning was in the best interest of being prepared for the race."

Associated Press writer Chris Blank contributed to this report.

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