The Ohio Democratic Party today officially joined the chorus in favor of a ballot issue to overhaul Ohio’s inherently partisan process under which state legislative districts are redrawn every 10 years. The party stood on the sidelines for months while a majority of organizations usually allied with it stood with Republicans to promote Issue 1 on the Nov. 3 ballot. The party’s executive committee waited to run computer models to see how it might fare under the new system before jumping on board. “We weren’t looking for, and we didn’t find, any models that showed we could guarantee ourselves a majority,” party Chairman David Pepper said. “Frankly, that would be gerrymandering just like in the past. What it found, though, was that if Democrats were to win the apportionment board, we could draw many seats that would be likely Democrat seats. But the most important change is there would be many more competitive races.”
Issue 1 enjoys broad bipartisan support, and so far there’s been no sign of organized opposition.
So the Democrats’ hesitance raised questions as to whether the party might instead again take its chances on the 2018 elections, when voters will pick a governor, secretary of state, and auditor — three seats that represent a majority of the five-member Ohio Apportionment Board that, in 2021, would redraw district boundaries for the Ohio House of Representatives and state Senate under current law.
Republicans controlled the process during the last two cycles. Today they hold majorities of 65-44 in the House and 23-10 in the Senate.