New filing deadline looms

On the side

Chamber luncheon: Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor will be the guest speaker at a Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 9 at Mr. Anthony’s in Boardman to discuss insurance and regulatory policy reform.

Taylor, a Republican who also serves as director of the Ohio Department of Insurance, has traveled throughout the state speaking against the federal health-care-overhaul law. Among her stops was City Machine Technologies in Youngstown on Aug. 26.

The cost of the chamber event is $20 for members and $30 for non-members. Reservations can be made by contacting Jennifer Mascardine at 330-744-2131 extension 12, by email at or at the chamber’s website, and click on the event link.

Endorsement meeting: The Mahoning County Democratic Party’s central and executive committees will meet Jan. 7, starting at 9 a.m., at the Maronite Center in Youngstown to endorse candidates for the March 6 primary.

R&R time: I will be on vacation, so there won’t be a column next Friday.

For those seeking U.S. House seats, a Dec. 7 filing deadline was a practice run.

Leading up to that date, there was a slim chance that Republican and Democratic state legislators would come to an agreement on congressional redistricting. Because of that possibility, the Ohio secretary of state urged candidates wanting to run for U.S. House seats to file by Dec. 7, the deadline for all other candidates running in the March 6 primary with the exception of presidential contenders.

A deal wasn’t reached by that deadline and nominating petitions filed by congressional candidates were voided.

Nominating petitions

Congressional candidates must submit new nominating petitions by Dec. 30.

In all likelihood, everyone who filed by Dec. 7 will refile by Dec. 30.

The congressional redistricting map unveiled Sept. 13 by Republicans — drawn secretly by top GOP operatives in a Columbus hotel room, costing Ohio taxpayers thousands of dollars — includes some funky-looking gerrymandered districts.

Of the 16 districts, nine heavily favor Republicans and four are solid Democratic districts. The remaining three favor Republicans by 7.7 percent to 8.72 percent; about as close as what can be considered for the next decade “swing districts” in Ohio.

Democrats objected to the map, and proposed a reasonable alternative that still gives Republicans the edge in 12 districts. The Democratic proposal made the three “swing districts” and three others a bit more competitive. That is, if you think a district with a 7.3 percent Republican advantage is competitive.

But the reality is Ohio is not a swing state. Every statewide seat that was up for grabs in the 2010 election went to Republicans. Republicans also control the state House and Senate, and outnumber Democrats 13-5 in the U.S. House.

Democratic losses

The only elections that went to the Democrats in the past decade were in 2006 and 2008, but Republicans retained control of the state Senate and the auditor’s office. Democrats quickly lost what they gained — and then some — in those two elections in 2010.

Democrats in the state Legislature did what they could, but eventually had no choice but to agree Dec. 14 to the Republican-drawn district lines with minor modifications.

The lines for the new 6th, 13th (the current 17th) and the 14th Districts, which include the Mahoning Valley, didn’t change in the slightest bit from the original Sept. 13 map.

Democrats complain about the new lines, but except for a couple of times, the party repeatedly fails to find a legitimate candidate to challenge U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, a Republican from Bainbridge and nine-term incumbent, in the 14th District.

The 14th is the third most competitive district on the new map with an 8.36 percent Republican advantage. The Northeast Ohio district includes 11 northern townships in Trumbull County.

The only Democratic candidate is Dale V. Blanchard of Solon, who’s unsuccessfully run for Congress every two years since 1996. Blanchard has already lost eight congressional races.

Is LaTourette hard to beat? Obviously, but Democrats have a few more days to find a legitimate challenger in the district.

Don’t expect that to occur.

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