The Ohio General Assembly’s Republican leadership is trundling out a time-tested Statehouse response to demands for congressional redistricting reform: Deflect, divert, stall – and, if that fails, confect a purported “reform” of its own, which would be anything but. This time, though, the GOP’s legislative leaders may be running scared. A voter-initiated plan, Fair Districts = Fair Ballots, likely will gather enough voter signatures to reach November 2018’s statewide ballot. Maybe sooner, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a recently argued Wisconsin case, could put the kibosh on grotesquely partisan congressional districts such as those our GOP-run legislature has inflicted on Ohio.
Ohio sends 16 members to the U.S. House. Thanks to districts drawn under the tutelage of then-U.S. House Speaker John Boehner of suburban Cincinnati, closely divided Ohio somehow sends 12 Republicans and four Democrats to the House.
One example of the blatant rigging: adding parts of Greater Cleveland to the district of U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, a Toledo Democrat, by “connecting” her district to Cleveland by (and only by) the 20-yard-wide Edison (Ohio 2) Bridge over Sandusky Bay. One aim: to “pack” (cram) as many Democrats as possible into Kaptur’s district to make adjoining Ohio congressional districts likelier to vote for a Republican.