Is Rep. Johnson a target?

On the side

Sleazy politics: Ex-state Rep. Sylvester D. Patton Jr., a Youngstown 5th Ward council candidate, has no shame.

In a campaign flyer, Patton has the gall to use half of a sentence I wrote in an April 15 column criticizing him for his refusal to meet with The Vindicator’s editorial board. The column also questioned his ability to be an effective councilman because he spends about half his week in Columbus at a $73,000-a-year political patronage job.

Patton’s flyer reads: “The Vindicator agrees ‘...Patton has legitimate credentials” — The Vindicator, Friday, April 15, 2011.”

That half-sentence was in my column. Of course, he didn’t include my questions about him not being at home or his refusal to seek this newspaper’s endorsement. Based on the deception in the flyer, he probably made a smart decision to duck us.

Guest speaker: Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor will be in Youngstown at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday speaking at the Mahoning County Republican Party’s first “Salute to the Judiciary” event at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Social Hall on Via Mount Carmel.

Tickets are $125 each. Reservations can be made by calling Republican headquarters at 330-629-7006.

If you are to believe the national experts, freshman U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson’s days in Congress are numbered.

Ohio is losing two of its 18 House seats in the 2012 election because the state’s population didn’t grow as fast as the nation’s.

Republicans, who did exceptionally well in last year’s election, will redraw the congressional district lines.

There are only five Ohio Democrats in the House.

The Republican redistricting plan will pit two Democrats against each other.

It’s possible, but unlikely, that Republicans will redraw lines to have two other Democrats face off.

That means the GOP will be forced to get rid of one of their own.

It’s too early to make a decision, but it’s never too early to speculate.

The National Journal, a prominent political magazine and website, lists Johnson among the top 10 Republicans in the entire U.S. House most vulnerable to losing his position through redistricting.

The thought is Johnson would be redistricted to compete with a fellow Republican in an area that would be to his disadvantage.

The Cook Political Report, a well-respected online newsletter focusing on congressional elections and campaigns, wrote that Johnson looks to be the odd man out among Republican House members.

While Johnson says there are those who’d like to see him “on the redistricting chopping-block” and “I certainly don’t feel vulnerable,” actions speak louder than words.

In late December, after Johnson’s victory but before he was sworn in to the House, his campaign acknowledged he was looking to move from Poland to Marietta.

Johnson sold his house in Poland in Mahoning County on March 23 and bought one in Marietta in Washington County a day later.

It’s a very shrewd move as Marietta is in the heart of the 6th District and Johnson did exceptionally well in Washington County in last year’s election.

Because of redistricting, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, needs to add about 121,000 residents to his district.

It’s quite likely that most of those residents will come from the portion of Mahoning County that’s currently in the 6th District.

Ryan’s district could also expand more into Portage and Summit counties as well as go into Columbiana and Stark counties.

At this point, I don’t necessarily agree with the experts about Johnson. He’s certainly one possibility.

Freshman U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs of Holmes County, R-18th, is another option. The lines could be drawn to pit Gibbs against Johnson in a district that may include Columbiana County.

There is also talk that Republicans could draw a district that would make it very difficult for U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt of Clermont County, R-2nd, to be re-elected.

Schmidt has one of the most conservative districts in the state yet she’s had only one strong win, in 2010, out of the four times she’s run.

Dec. 7 is the filing deadline for the March 2012 primary. The new lines would have to be drawn at least a month, and probably two months, before the filing deadline.

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