Senate Dems propose congressional map

By: - September 30, 2021 12:40 am

Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko is pictured at the Ohio Statehouse. Official photo.

The day before the first deadline for congressional maps in Ohio, Democrats in the state Senate released a map of district lines which reduce the Republican lean in the state.

The Ohio Senate Dems proposed congressional district map.

The map was released as Senate Bill 237, and was introduced Wednesday by Ohio Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, D-Richmond Heights, and state Sen. Vernon Sykes, D-Akron, who is also the co-chair of the Ohio Redistricting Commission.

The maps propose six seats that would be competitive, along with a likely breakdown of eight Republican districts to seven Democratic or nine Republican to six Democrats. Currently Republicans control Ohio U.S. Congressional seats 12-4.

The Democrats’ proposed map shows a partisan lean between 45% and 55%, closely reflecting the 46-54 Democratic to Republican average percentage of vote split in the last 16 partisan statewide elections. Legislative maps approved in a partisan 5-2 vote by the redistricting commission give Republicans at least a 62 of 99 district advantage, according to their own numbers, and were deeply criticized by Democrats.

The deadline set out in the Ohio Constitution for the General Assembly to pass a congressional map is set to pass on Thursday, with no indication that legislators plan to meet it.

“Our plan demonstrates that if the majority had the will, we could have drawn a bipartisan map before the September 30 deadline,” Sykes said in a Wednesday statement announcing the maps.

John Fortney, spokesperson for the Senate GOP said the caucus was still reviewing the maps, but after an initial review, Fortney called the Dem maps a “new experiment in geometric shapes.”

“A fatter snake on the lake, the district around Columbus gives new meaning to the ‘horseshoe’ and the 7th  looks like a big thumbs up for maybe a new member of Congress,” Fortney told the OCJ.

The Senate maps have initial support from anti-gerrymandering group All On the Line Ohio.

“This proposed map is a great starting point for community-led conversation about how best to serve Ohioans under new district lines,” said Katy Shanahan, state director for AOTL. “Now we need public hearings so we can share our thoughts.”

The only progress the legislature has made in the congressional redistricting process is approving rules for the Ohio Redistricting Commission, who will now take the lead on map approval as the GA deadline passes.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed House Bill 92 into law on Wednesday. The main focus of the bill regards child abuse or neglect investigations involving the military, but at the last minute, language was added bringing the rules of the Ohio Redistricting Commission into the measure, such as the creation of a public website for submission of congressional district plans and access to data.

If the commission can’t come to a bipartisan agreement by the end of October, the process goes back to legislators.

Currently, the democratic map in SB 237 only has the support of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus.

The legislative maps are facing multiple court challenges, and if the Ohio Supreme Court finds the maps unconstitutional, the redistricting commission will then have to take up the legislative maps again as they decide on congressional maps.

The state’s highest court has given parties in the three lawsuits against the legislative maps until December to plan their arguments for and against the maps.

This flow chart shows the new process for redrawing congressional districts in Ohio. Circled is the deadline in question due to the U.S. Census data delay.

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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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