Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

Ohio Republicans May Be About to Learn a Painful Lesson

Time for another Ohio item, brought to our attention by several readers, including R.B. in Cleveland and K.T. in Columbus. As we all learned from the drama over Issue 1, Ohio Republicans have gotten in the habit of grossly abusing their power. The list of anti-democratic (and anti-Democratic) maneuvers is long and concerning. Issue 1, a.k.a. an attempt to effectively permanently impose a minority position on abortion on the people of Ohio, is just the latest exemplar.

Almost as high-profile has been the fight over gerrymandering in the state. Back in 2018, Ohio voters approved a district-drawing process that was supposed to be non-partisan. The measure—also called Issue 1, as chance would have it—was wildly popular, and passed with a staggering 74.85% of the vote. However, the Ohio Redistricting Commission that was created as a result of this fell under the control of Ohio Republicans, many of them (including Frank LaRose) ex officio members of the commission. The Republicans on the Commission drew highly gerrymandered maps, which were rejected by the Ohio courts. This resulted in another set of gerrymandered maps, and another, and another, for a total of at least seven different maps that violate the Ohio state Constitution.

Ohio's PVI is R+6, which means that in recent presidential elections, the Republican candidate has won the major-party vote, on average, by a margin of 52% to 48%. That does not perfectly predict what the breakdown of representation in the U.S. House and the state legislature should be, but it's not a bad ballpark figure. Nonetheless, thanks to the gerrymanders, the Ohio delegation to the House of Representatives is 10 R, 5 D (66.6% R); the Ohio state Senate is 26 R, 7 D (78.8% R), and the Ohio state House is 67 R, 32 D (67.7% R). The generally blue character of Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati is not enough to explain that sort of disparity.

In view of this, a group called Citizens Not Politicians is now working to amend the Ohio Constitution to fix the problems with the previous anti-gerrymandering measure. The new scheme would require a 15 person board (as opposed to the current 7), with five members representing the Republican Party, five members representing the Democratic Party and five members registered as independents (as opposed to the current 5 R, D 2). In addition, the 15 members would be drawn from the general electorate, and current officeholders would be barred from serving. Currently, all 7 members are sitting officeholders.

Thus far, the efforts of Citizens Not Politicians have been met with much enthusiasm, and the group is collecting signatures at a brisk clip. We don't have a lot of information to work with, yet, but it's pretty clear the initiative has an excellent chance of making it onto the 2024 general election ballot. If it does, it will almost certainly pass, given that Ohioans clearly support non-partisan map drawing, and that they are clearly pissed off about the Issue 1 (and other) shenanigans. If so, then a lot of Republican politicians will lose their jobs in a few years, which seems a pretty just outcome to us. (Z)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates