GOP not seeking bipartisanship
Undoubtedly the congressional map Republicans in the state Legislature will approve by the end of this month won’t get enough support from Democrats to enact it for 10 years.
Republicans aren’t interested in that — and based on how the process is going, they believe they don’t need to be bipartisan.
The Republican majority on the Ohio Redistricting Commission in September approved a four-year state legislative map that continues to give its party a supermajority rather than make compromises to get Democratic support for a 10-year map.
The House and Senate Republicans recently introduced separate maps, ignoring a 2018 constitutional amendment calling for bipartisanship and fairness in drawing congressional lines.
In addition to keeping districts compact and most counties whole, the new maps also are supposed to reflect voting trends over the past decade in statewide partisan elections, which favor Republicans 54 to 46 percent.
Large solid red sections of the state make it difficult to achieve balance. But Republicans have already dismissed the notion maps should show a split such as that.
Proposals they introduced can be viewed as even less balanced than the current 12-4 gerrymandered map favoring Republicans.
The House Republicans proposal creates eight strong Republican districts, two safe Democratic districts and five supposed competitive ones, though three give Republicans an advantage of about 10 percent based on voting trends. That’s a 13-2 Republican map.
The Senate Republicans proposal drew six solid Republican districts, two Democratic ones and seven districts that favor Republicans, though not as heavily as the House map. Still, it’s a 13-2 Republican map.
Ohio is losing one congressional district next year because the state’s population didn’t grow as fast as the rest of the nation.
For a map to be approved for 10 years, 60 percent of the state Legislature needs to vote in favor with at least one-third of Democrats by Nov. 30. If Democratic support doesn’t happen — and it won’t — a map approved by 60 percent of legislators would be good for four years.
With Republicans almost certain to control the redistricting process in four years, they’ll do this all over again.
House and Senate Democrats also drew district lines, though neither has any chance of approval.
The map by the Senate Democrats created six strong Republican districts, three safe Democratic districts and six competitive ones though Democrats would have the advantage in four of them. It’s an 8-7 Republican map.
The House Democrats map has six safe Republican districts, four solid Democratic districts and five competitive districts with three of those leaning Republican and two favoring Democrats. It’s a 9-6 Republican map. It also puts seven incumbent Republican congressmen in three districts.
During my discussions with members of both parties, few are taking either of the Republican maps seriously and have dismissed the Democratic maps.
Numerous changes are expected.
Like the state legislative map, the final congressional map will be challenged in the Ohio Supreme Court.
For the Mahoning Valley, all four of the maps have all or large sections of Mahoning County in a Republican-controlled district.
It would be possible to draw a competitive district that would include Mahoning, Trumbull, Portage counties with part of Summit that looks similar to the existing 13th District. But no one in control is interested in that.
The Senate Republican map keeps Mahoning and Trumbull together along with seven counties to the south in a district that is 55.7 percent Republican to 42 percent Democrat with the rest going to other political parties based on voting trends.
The House Republican map includes all of Mahoning and southern Trumbull in a district that goes along the eastern border to Lawrence County that is 58 percent Republican, 38.1 percent Democratic and the rest for other political parties.
The House GOP map also has most of Trumbull County in a separate district that favors Republicans 50.7 to 44.9 percent Democratic with the rest for other political parties.
While the Republican maps drew U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce, R-Bainbridge, out of Trumbull County, don’t be surprised if he gets most or all of it when a final map is approved. Joyce’s current district includes Trumbull County communities.
Also, the Republican maps have Mahoning County in a district represented by U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta. He currently represents a portion of the county. The Senate Republican map also included all of Trumbull in that district.
A compromise would give Johnson all of Mahoning and none or maybe a tiny portion of Trumbull.
While most of Trumbull and Mahoning are currently in the same congressional district, I don’t expect that to remain.