My Turn: Rep. Kohring needs help keeping score

Posted: Friday, March 08, 2002

In his attack on the "Tony Knowles-dominated Reapportionment Board," Rep. Vic Kohring raises a mathematical question which high school students, facing the exit exam, might want to ponder. It has to do with scoring.

Rep. Kohring asserts that the evil Board "gerrymandered boundaries to create more than three score cases where well-known Republicans have been forced to run against each other." Now, the word "score" has several different meanings, and the word "score" might not have been a word Rep. Kohring used very often when he was the starting center for Dimond High's 1976 state championship basketball team he was more of a rebounder but, in the context of "four score and seven years ago," or, more appropriately, "threescore years and ten," the word "score" means "20." "Three score," Rep. Kohring's term, means "60."

But there are only 20 seats in the state Senate, and there are only 40 seats in the state House, and under the evil Knowles Plan some incumbent senators don't have to run this year. Because there are fewer than 60 total seats up this year, it would have been mathematically impossible even for the evilest of Tony Knowles-dominated Boards to have created more than three score cases, more than 60 cases, where well-known Republicans are being forced to run against each other.

Unless, and this is the hard part, Rep. Kohring has been using the left-wing socialist "new-math concepts" he and I both learned in the Anchorage school system. Conceivably there is one district in Anchorage where six well-known Republicans (call them "Nixon," "Agnew," "Haldeman," "Erlichman," "Colson," and "Liddy") must all run against each other, and instead of calling this one single case of well-known Republicans running against each other, Rep. Kohring has enumerated this as a series of two-person fratricidal races, Nixon v. Agnew, Nixon v. Haldeman, Agnew v. Haldeman, Haldeman v. Erlichman, and so on, which adds up to 15 cases, which is one quarter of the way to threescore right there. If you add in the various three-way, four-way, and five-way fratricidal permutations perhaps Rep. Kohring and I are both snarled in memories of overlapping and increasingly hallucinatory Venn diagrams who knows how much closer we'd get to 60, on the basis of just one district?

(High school students who can answer this question should send their answers to Rep. Kohring and the Empire and perhaps the newspaper in Rep. Kohring's district, which is called, appropriately for a district of capital-moving Republican real estate developers, "The Frontiersman.")

Or perhaps Rep. Kohring is emulating Bill Clinton (and the new math) by feeling the pain of each forlorn well-known Republican. Nixon feels the pain of fratricide. Agnew feels the pain of fratricide. Haldeman feels the pain of fratricide. And so on. All you need are 61 ambitious well-known Republicans, lusting for legislative glory in only 31 or fewer districts (Kids! Am I right? Work this out!), and you have more than three score cases where well-known Republicans have been forced to run against each other. Thirty-one or fewer races, 61 or more pain-feeling cases.

Or perhaps there is another way of adding this up, only superficially measureless to man (High school students! You do not have to identify poetic allusions on the exit exam!), that Rep. Kohring could explain?

Mark Regan has lived in Juneau for 27 years.

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