The presence of 12 Republicans and only four Democrats in Ohio’s congressional delegation serves to highlight the problem with the current method of creating legislative districts in this purple state.
Indeed, Republican super majorities in the Ohio Senate and House are the result of state district boundaries being drawn by the apportionment board dominated by one party.
In other words, the 2010 statewide elections in which the GOP captured every office from governor on down was the political equivalent of a royal flush for the Republicans. They have the ability to remain in power until after 2020, when the national population census is conducted.
It would seem, therefore, that doing nothing to undermine this political equation is a winning strategy for the party in power.
And yet, the Republican secretary of state, Jon Husted, who won office in the 2010 GOP sweep, is pushing for a change in the way boundaries for congressional and state legislative districts are drawn.
It is noteworthy that Husted has long advocated a bipartisan solution to what has historically been an exercise in partisan political chicanery. Both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of this breach of public trust.
When he was in the Ohio Senate and shortly after he became secretary of state, Husted tried to persuade the General Assembly to adopt a plan that would take away — not entirely, of course — the tilt that exists in the current system. It gives the majority a clear advantage.
Last December, the Ohio Senate approved a bipartisan plan to reform the winner-take-all system of drawing political boundaries. However, the Republican controlled House balked, which caused the measure to die on the legislative vine.
The Senate will revisit the issue this year, and Husted is confident the House will follow suit before the General Assembly’s session ends.
Though some Republican legislators may be inclined to cling to the political proposition, “To the victor belongs the spoils,” the reality is that grassroots organizations, in conjunction with the Ohio Democratic Party, are determined to change the current broken system.
The Senate’s bipartisan plan was developed by a redistricting task force led by Sens. Keith Faber, R-Celina, and Nina Turner, D-Cleveland. It reflects what Husted had proposed as a legislator.
As an aside, Turner is considering running against Husted next year.
The plan calls for the creation of a seven-member panel comprising the governor, auditor, secretary of state and members appointed by the House and Senate.
If adopted by the Senate and House, Senate Joint Resolution 1 would be put before Ohio voters in the form of a constitutional amendment.
The selling point is the requirement that at least one vote from the minority party is needed for a redistricting or reapportionment map to be adopted.
That means members of the majority party on the commission cannot ignore or steamroll the minority. This will ensure bipartisan cooperation, which does not exist today.