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Published: Tuesday, 9/20/2011

Ohio Democrats submit own map for redistricting

BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU

COLUMBUS — Democrats on Monday submitted their own long-awaited proposal on how to redraw congressional districts, one that would preserve both the city of Toledo and Lucas County entirely within one district.

The map, formally introduced as a bill by state Sen. Tom Sawyer (D., Akron), was actually drawn by a Republican state senator in Illinois, who submitted it as part of a competition sponsored by the League of Women Voters and other Ohio government watchdog groups.

Congressional districts must be redrawn every 10 years following each U.S. Census to adjust for population shifts.

Ohio also has to adjust to the loss of two of its 18 seats in the U.S. House because of its stagnant population growth compared to some southern and western states.

The Ohio House last week approved a Republican-drawn map that packs Democrats into four northern districts while creating 12 solidly Republican or GOP-leaning districts.

That map, which could come to a vote in the Republican-dominated Senate as early as Wednesday, would split Toledo three ways among districts currently represented by U.S. Reps. Marcy Kaptur, a Toledo Democrat, U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, a Bowling Green Republican, and U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, an Urbana Republican.

It also stretches Miss Kaptur’s district thinly along the Lake Erie shoreline to Cleveland, encompassing slivers of five counties without containing a single county in its entirety. That would set up a primary election showdown between Miss Kaptur and a fellow Democrat from Cleveland, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

The Democratic map introduced Monday would create a much more compact district in which Miss Kaptur would be the sole incumbent. The new 5th District would encompass the largely rural northwestern corner of the state that is now contained in Mr. Latta’s district but also include all of Lucas County as its eastern edge.

Mr. Latta would represent much of what is now the 9th District bordering the lake, stretching from his home Wood County to Lorain County. Mr. Jordan’s 4th District would remain substantially similar to his current, largely rural western Ohio territory

The map claims to create 11 politically competitive districts, something valued in the competition’s scoring but not legally required in the redistricting process.

Cuyahoga, Franklin, and Hamilton counties would each have an entire congressional district within their boundaries.

Democrats have drawn criticism from Republicans for failing to submit their own map despite receiving state appropriations to finance the effort.



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