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Gov. DeWine signs Republican congressional map with huge GOP advantage

BY: DAVID DEWITT – Ohio Capital Journal

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has signed Statehouse Republicans’ congressional map for Ohio giving the GOP a substantial advantage, claiming that of all the maps presented it “makes the most progress to produce a fair, compact and competitive map.”

DeWine pointed to fewer county splits in the map and the number of Ohio cities the map keeps whole.

“With seven competitive congressional districts in the SB 258 map, this map significantly increases the number of competitive districts versus the current map,” DeWine said.

 The GOP congressional map signed by Gov. Mike DeWine. (Right-Click to enlarge map)

Without bipartisan support, the map is slated to only be in place for four years. With DeWine’s signature, legal challenges are expected to be forthcoming. Statehouse legislative maps approved by the Ohio Redistricting Commission with only Republican support in September are facing legal challenges currently before the Ohio Supreme Court.

DeWine’s son, Justice Pat DeWine, has refused to recuse himself from the case, making Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor the potential swing vote on the constitutionality of the Republican plans that continue Republican supermajorities in the Ohio House and Senate and now an 11-2 advantage in congressional maps with two potential toss-up districts.

Ohio voters passed redistricting reform for state legislative maps in 2015, with more than 70% support, and congressional redistricting reform in 2018 with nearly 75% support. Those reforms called for maps that do not “unduly favor or disfavor” one political party or another.

The map approved Thursday in the House was introduced just Monday night as an amendment replacing the maps previously discussed in committee hearings. After the map was unveiled, it had one hearing in which a committee heard public comment. Every speaker was an opponent. The Princeton Gerrymandering gave the map a flunking grade.

An analysis of the map on Dave’s Redistricting App shows seven Republican districts, two Democratic districts and six districts listed as competitive for being within a 54-46 margin. Five in six of the “competitive” districts lean Republican, and the one that leans Democratic, Ohio’s 13th district, does so by 0.88%. It was passed along partisan lines in both the Ohio Senate and Ohio House this past week.

DeWine’s signing of the GOP congressional maps was criticized by anti-gerrymandering advocates.

“Once again, Gov. DeWine has failed to stand up to the extremists in his party. He could have rejected gerrymandered maps, but chose weakness instead,” said Desiree Tims, president and CEO of Innovation Ohio. “These rigged districts will lead to more extreme politicians who pass dangerous laws that devastate Ohio communities.”

The map will give Republicans 80%  to 87% of Ohio’s congressional seats, the advocates noted, despite the fact that Republicans only win about 55% of Ohio’s statewide vote.

“Regardless of our skin color or zip code, everybody deserves to have a meaningful influence on our political process and choosing who gets to represent us,” said Jeniece Brock, Policy and Advocacy Director of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative. “By cracking and packing communities of color, this congressional map dilutes the power and voices of Black and brown Ohioans.”

David DeWitt has more than 15 years experience covering Ohio government, politics and policy, including education, health care, crime and courts, poverty, state and local government, business, labor, energy, environment, and social issues. He has worked for the National Journal, The New York Observer, The Athens NEWS, and Plunderbund.com. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and is a board member of the E.W. Scripps Society of Alumni and Friends.
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