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Published: Friday, 12/9/2011

Ohio lawmakers prepared to return to single primary


COLUMBUS -- Ohio lawmakers are prepared to reverse course next week and reunite the state's two scheduled 2012 primary elections into one to be held in May.

Solely with the votes of Republicans, the General Assembly passed a law this fall to hold two dual primaries because of the uncertainty surrounding the boundaries of new congressional districts. The move, opposed by county boards of elections, was expected to cost the state an additional $15 million.

"We believe it is in Ohio's best interest to have a single primary date, and this legislation will move all primaries to Tuesday, May 8, 2012," said Rep. Matt Huffman (R., Lima), the bill's sponsor.

Currently, the state is slated to hold a primary election for local, state, U.S. Senate, and judicial elections on March 6 and a second for presidential and congressional races tied to congressional districts on June 12.

Under the advice of Secretary of State Jon Husted, many congressional and presidential contenders filed their candidate petitions by Wednesday's deadline associated with the March primary date just in case. Mr. Huffman's bill would set a new filing deadline of March 9 for them.

Volunteers for the Ohio Democratic Party are circulating petitions to subject the new congressional map passed largely by Republicans to a voter referendum in November, 2012. Among other things, that map creates what critics contend would be 12 safe Republican districts and four Democratic districts.

The state is losing two seats in Congress because of its stagnant population growth over the last decade, and the map is drawn to eliminate one district now held by a Democrat and one held by a Republican.

The map splits the city of Toledo between three districts now held by U.S. Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green), and Jim Jordan (R., Urbana). It also redraws the 9th District to stretch thinly along the Lake Erie shoreline from Toledo to Cleveland to pit Miss Kaptur and U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D., Cleveland) against each other in a 2012 Democratic primary.

Talks continue between Republicans and Democrats on a potential compromise map, but in the meantime the GOP is watching to see whether Democrats will meet their Christmas deadline for filing referendum petitions.

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