Critics blast ‘partisan’ congressional maps


By Jim Provance - The (Toledo) Blade



House Democrats released their own proposed map of Ohio’s 15 congressional districts, mostly centered around larger cities.

House Democrats released their own proposed map of Ohio’s 15 congressional districts, mostly centered around larger cities.


COLUMBUS — Sen. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, co-chairman of a joint legislative committee looking at a new congressional map, has come up with a new name for Democrats’ vision of the Toledo-based 9th District.

“Looking at this map, instead of a snake on the lake, it looks like an alligator on the lake,” she told the framers of an Ohio Senate Democratic proposal.

Instead of a district stretching from Toledo to Cleveland along a thin slice of Lake Erie shoreline, the Democratic proposal would create a fatter district following much of the same trajectory but mostly using whole counties instead of slivers. The tail of the “alligator” would be Lucas County, but the mouth would be taking a bite out of southwestern Lorain County rather than continue on into Cleveland.

Even the Senate Democratic proposal would appear to place the current 9th District occupant — U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, a Toledo Democrat — at a competitive disadvantage with a potential Republican opponent. But it still gives Kaptur a better shot than maps proposed by House and Senate Republicans that force the district to take a decidedly rural and Republican shift.

Trevor Martin, of Columbus, took issue with a suggestion that the current 9th District was drawn a decade ago by a Republican-controlled General Assembly to be heavily Democrat as a favor to Kaptur.

“Come on,” he said. “It’s no secret that that district was drawn to put two Democrats in a primary — Dennis Kucinich and Marcy Kaptur … It’s the kind of dirtiness that is involved with gerrymandering.”

Kaptur won that primary fight, and she was left with a thin lake-hugging district that remained extremely Democratic-friendly for the next decade. But that cannot continue under new rules for drawing maps approved by voters in 2018 that require counties to remain intact as much as possible.

As the 9th District expands geographically to pick up population, it will inevitably become more Republican. But the maps pending before the joint legislative committee have different ideas of just how Republican.

The 4-2 GOP-majority committee is required to hold two public hearings on proposed maps. In addition to Gavarone, it counts Sens. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon), and Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) and Reps. Shane Wilkin (R-Hillsboro), Scott Oelslager (R-North Canton), and Beth Liston (D-Dublin) as members.

Ultimately, the map will be passed by the General Assembly in its entirety like any other bill.

Republicans currently hold 12, or 75 percent, of Ohio’s 16 congressional seats. The state is losing one of those seats due to its sluggish population growth over the last decade relative to other states.

“As Ohio votes about 55 percent Republican, just over half of the seats for Congress should go Republican…,” said Jen Miller, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. She noted that, in particular, the two Republican proposals do not represent that and would be “unduly partisan” as prohibited under the constitutional rules.

The committee has four bills before it:

• A House Republican map that analysis suggests could lead to a 13-2 GOP-led delegation. The district would split the city of Toledo between districts now held by Kaptur and U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, a Bowling Green Republican.

• A Senate Republican map that also heavily favors the GOP. It would keep the entire city of Toledo within Kaptur’s new increasingly rural, Republican-friendly district but would still split Lucas County.

• A Senate Democratic map that would keep all of Lucas County whole but still create a district slightly favoring a Republican. Backers claim it would lead to an 8-7 GOP majority.

• A House Democratic map that would be expected to create a 9-6 Republican advantage and create the friendliest district among the four maps for Ms, Kaptur by sticking to counties bordering Lake Erie from Lucas County to Lorain County rather than venture into rural Republican territory.

It is unclear how the revamped process will play out. A second and final hearing is scheduled before the joint committee on Friday.

“This is the first time we’re going through this process,” Wilkin, the committee’s co-chairman, said. “It is very fluid. It is something that is not set in stone.”

The legislature faces a constitutional deadline of Nov. 30 to pass a map.

For that map to last the full decade until after the next U.S. Census, it must have the support of two-thirds of each chamber, including one-third of minority Democrats. If a map passes by a simple majority vote, it would last just four years and then the process would have to start over.

House Democrats released their own proposed map of Ohio’s 15 congressional districts, mostly centered around larger cities.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2021/11/web1_Map-1.jpgHouse Democrats released their own proposed map of Ohio’s 15 congressional districts, mostly centered around larger cities.

By Jim Provance

The (Toledo) Blade

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