COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Republicans on the Ohio Redistricting Commission, who voted Saturday to adopt new legislative maps for a second time, said the new maps create more opportunities for Democrats to win seats at the Statehouse.
What You Need To Know
- The Ohio Redistricting Commission passed new legislative maps Saturday
- The maps would give Republicans 57 of 99 seats in the Ohio House and 20 of 33 seats in the Ohio Senate
- The maps will be reviewed by the Ohio Supreme Court
But that does not necessarily mean any Republicans currently serving at the Statehouse need to start worrying about their future.
The maps passed by the Ohio Redistricting Commission just four hours before the deadline would give Republicans 57 of 99 seats in the Ohio House and 20 of 33 seats in the Ohio Senate. Those numbers suggest 12 seats currently occupied by Republicans in either chamber would now favor Democrats.
"I think they don't really. In fact, the Republican mapmakers were very clever in what they did," said Paul Beck, Professor Emeritus in Ohio State University's political science department.
The maps give the GOP an advantage in 58% of the districts, which is less than a 60% veto-proof supermajority. However, most of the new Democratic districts only favor the left by 1-3% points.
On the other hand, among the 77 districts that favor Republicans, 75 of them are by a margin of at least 5%.
“When you get into the question of how partisan do you have to be? How safe do districts have to be in order to comply? I don’t think any of that is in the Constitution,” Ohio House Speaker Robert Cupp, R-Lima, said Saturday.
Then there is the question of which Republican lawmakers could be at risk of losing their seats as a result of the new maps.
For example, in the Ohio Senate, Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg; Nathan Manning, R-North Ridgeville; and Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, all have districts that now lean Democratic but only by fractions above 50%.
Also, Matt Dolan, R-Chagrin Falls, and Stephanie Kunze, R-Hilliard, whose seats already slightly favored Democrats, are both term-limited.
Beck said based on what the maps look like, it is clear Republican mapmakers avoided undercutting their own incumbents.
"They were paying attention to who was term-limited and would not be running again in 2022,” Beck said. “They were paying attention to whether they were putting together a district that would have two Republicans facing each other for the nomination.”
The Ohio Supreme Court will decide if the maps are constitutional. Beck does not think they are nor does he think any of the newly-drawn Democratic leaning districts will favor Democrats.
"Given the campaign finance advantages that Republican candidates enjoy these days, those are seats that are likely to be won by Republicans," said Beck.