Provided by Hannah News Service
The Ohio Redistricting Commission Wednesday passed a new congressional redistricting plan along party lines, making a couple of small changes to the plan first introduced by Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) on Tuesday while rejecting two Democratic proposals.
The Republican map would favor Republicans in 10 districts, Democrats in three, and has two toss-up districts that lean slightly Democratic.
The issue is likely headed back to the Ohio Supreme Court, which rejected the first map that was passed as a part of SB258 (McColley). Republicans said they remedied the concerns of the Court in that map, particularly splits of Cuyahoga, Hamilton and Summit counties. What happens next will be up to the Court, which will likely receive a challenge to the new map.
Huffman said the new proposal introduced Wednesday was basically the same as Tuesday's map but made changes to the Central Ohio-based 15th and 3rd districts to make sure incumbents Mike Carey and Joyce Beatty live in their districts in the newly drawn map, as well as places Beatty's main district office within the district boundaries. In Hamilton County, small changes were made to the 1st and 8th districts to eliminate subdivisions splits. It still contains the city of Cincinnati as well as all of Warren County.
Democrats introduced two proposed maps of their own, both of which were voted down on party lines. Those would have favored Republicans in eight seats and Democrats in seven seats. The first was the latest version of the Senate Democratic plan in SB237 (Sykes-Yuko), which Huffman called a "step backwards" from discussions between the two sides.
The second proposal made changes to Huffman's Tuesday plan and addressed items brought up by House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) in that meeting. The 1st District would have been contained entirely in Hamilton County in the Democratic plan, and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur's (D-Toledo) 9th District expanded its lines to Lorain County to make it more Democratic. The 15th District was also made more Democratic, by including parts of Columbus as well as Union and Delaware counties, but Republicans said that made U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan's (R-Urbana) 4th District less compact.
Huffman, opposing the amendments to his plan, suggested that language in the Ohio Constitution against a map unduly favoring a particular party, which was cited by the Court in striking down SB258, does not apply at this stage because the Constitution does not specifically state it does.
Passage of the new map comes as elections officials scramble to prepare for the May 3 primary because of the delay in maps. Huffman and Cupp have indicated there is not enough support in their chambers for moving the primary back. Friday is the primary filing deadline for congressional candidates.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose said he will be issuing a directive to county boards to begin implementing the congressional district lines passed Wednesday similar to the directive he issued over the weekend to implement the new General Assembly lines.
Jen Miller of the League of Women Voters of Ohio told reporters her group and other voter advocates "are highly frustrated that the Ohio Redistricting Commission continues to disrespect the Ohio Constitution and Ohio voters. This map is better than previous versions, but there are still far better congressional district plans that were presented to this commission" by the public.
Fair Districts Ohio, which had held map competitions, issued a statement saying the plan fails to uphold the expectations of voters who approved the constitutional amendment in 2018.