Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ohio Democrats' Hypocrisy on Redistricting

A few weeks ago the Ohio Legislature passed new Congressional lines for the state.  The Republican-controlled Ohio House and Senate passed these new district lines by wide margins in each chamber, with several Democrats from the Legislative Black Caucus joining Republicans in support.  In past years this would be the end of the process, but in 2011 it isn't.  That's because the Ohio Democratic Party is trying to place a referendum on the ballot to challenge these districts.

The Democrats' reason for this is purely partisan.  Having lost the fight in the legislature, they want another bite at the apple.  Their reason for initiating yet another costly referendum battle is the claim that the new map isn't "fair" (code for "we want more Democratic districts").

This partisan maneuver has already had repercussions for the state.  Instead of having one primary in March for all elected offices there will now be two primaries, a consequence that will cost Ohio millions.  The March primary will be for local and state officials, and a separate primary in June will take place for Congressional seats and President.

The Democrats' clamoring for removing partisanship from the process is nothing more than political expediency.  As the Plain Dealer notes, Democrats had a chance to change this process and chose not to act.  Then-State Senator Jon Husted introduced legislation in 2009 to create an impartial system for drawing Ohio's legislative districts.  That bill would have created a 7-member, bipartisan legislative panel to draw new district lines.  A five member super-majority would have been required for passage, and the legislature would have been required to draw competitive districts wherever possible.

Republicans supported this proposal, but Democrats killed the bill.  At that time Democrats controlled the House and 2 of the 3 statewide offices that make up the apportionment board.  They believed they would maintain this control, so they decided to leave the system unchanged.

Despite all their recent talk about 'fairness' it's clear that Democrats blocked this proposal because they hoped to draw a map that would be to their benefit.  State Rep. Ron Gerberry (D-Austintown) admitted this last month:
"We would too if we were in control." Rep Ron Gerberry on whether Dems would draw favorable lines
In spite of their self-righteous indignation over the new Congressional districts, Democrats simply will not tell the truth about the districts the legislature passed.  The truth is that Republicans passed a reasonable Congressional map.

Ohio lost 2 Congressional districts as a result of the 2010 Census.  The legislature's response was a fair one, eliminating 1 Republican-leaning district and 1 Democratic-leaning district.  Democrats are complaining that 12 of the 16 new districts favor Republicans, but that split exists because Ohio's current Congressional delegation is 13-5 in favor of the GOP.  Three pairs of incumbent representatives will now be in the same district: a pair of Republicans (Austria and Turner), a pair of Democrats (Kaptur and Kucinich), and one member from each party (Renacci-R and Sutton-D).

When Democrats were in power they had the chance to change the redistricting system, and they chose to maintain the status quo.  Now pirate aficionado Chris Redfern and the Ohio Democratic Party refuse to play by the rules they left in place for Ohio.
Arrrr! I be wantin' yer maps!
It's just more hypocrisy in action from the Democrats.

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