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Ohio House passes redistricting plan

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Ohio

September 15, 2011

By Tyler Millhouse

Columbus, Ohio: On Thursday, September 15, the Ohio House of Representatives approved a redistricting plan for the state's congressional districts. Following the 2010 Census, Ohio lost two of its 18 US House seats.[1] The plan, approved in committee on Tuesday, eliminates two districts in the Cleveland area and one in southwest Ohio. The map also creates a new district centered in Columbus.[2]

In Cleveland, the plan eliminates Betty Sutton's district, shifting her home into Jim Renacci's (R) Republican-leaning district. The plan also combines the districts of Dennis Kucinich (D) and Marcy Kaptur (D). In southwest Ohio, Mike Turner (R) and Steve Austria (R) will also be paired in a single district.[2] Despite being paired with Kaptur, Kucinich announced that he would run in the new district, ending months of speculation that he would move and seek election in Washington State.[3]

Drawn by the state's Republican majority, the plan has incited charges of gerrymandering from Democrats. Republicans note that although Democrats were allotted state funds to produce a competing map, no map was offered. Democrats have since responded that they favor a non-political solution for redistricting. Democrats are reportedly considering a lawsuit or even a veto referendum to block the legislation. The move has worked before. In 1915, Democrats succeeded in overturning a Republican redistricting plan at the ballot box.[1]

On the same day as the plan's release, the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting revealed the winners of its congressional redistricting competition. The first place winner was Mike Fortner, an Illinois state legislator interested in the redistricting process. Both maps can be seen side-by-side below. According to the coalition, the plan produced by the state legislature would have finished last in terms of fairness, compactness, and competitiveness.[4][5]

Overall, the map is expected to significantly strengthen Republican incumbents and solidify potential swing districts in favor of the GOP.[6] Of the state's 16 congressional districts, 12 would lean Republican under the new plan.[7] The Ohio House approved the plan by a 56 - 36 margin. The Ohio State Senate is expected to take up the bill next week.[1]

 Ohio Congressional Redistricting Proposals 

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