CLEVELAND — The Ohio Senate voted Tuesday to approve new Republican drawn Congressional Districts sending the measure to the House that will take up the maps on Wednesday. The Republican sponsors of the map of the state's proposed new 15 Congressional Districts see them as fair and competitive.
"This map has six seats that lean Republican, seven seats that are competitive and two seats that lean Democrat,” said State Senator Rob McColley (R-Napoleon).
Democrats and independent groups though disagree. Princeton Gerrymandering Project gave the map a grade of "F." They say it offers a 10-2 Republican advantage with two more seats leaning Republican and one more leaning Democrat.
Some of the notable configurations include the 5th District that links Lorain County in with three counties on the Indiana border. A drive from North Ridgeville to Celina of about 3 hours. It also puts Parma in the same Rep. Dave Joyce district as Conneaut in Ashtabula County.
It takes the seat of Rep. Anthony Gonzalez who is not running for a re-election and makes it a slightly Democratic leaning district splitting Rocky River between the new 13th District which stretches down into Medina and Summit County and Rep. Shontel Brown’s 11th District.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur’s 9th District would stretch from Erie County to the Indiana border and while it still favors a Republican, the Princeton Gerrymandering Project puts the GOP edge at 50.4% to 49.6%.
“Instead of working on behalf of Ohioans, Republicans have insulted them with a map that tilts the scale in a way that violates both common sense and the constitution,” Rep. Kaptur said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the courts may now have to do what Republicans did not—ensure fair representation for the people of Ohio.”
Those speaking against the maps before they passed out of committee argued they fly in the face of the constitutional amendment that created what was to be a fairer more open process involving both parties.
"Back in 2010 when these maps for the last ten years were adopted it was all done in private. It happened again,” said Tiffany Rumbalski.
Catherine Turcer of Common Cause Ohio help lead the fight to pass the 2018 referendum in all 88 counties.
"We didn't necessarily think that the two political parties would get along,” Turcer said. “We thought it would be difficult but we actually expected there to be a public process and public deliberation."
The House is expected to pass the maps without Democrat support as well by the end of the week. Though the legislature has until Nov. 30 to reach an agreement, they will not be in session next week for the Thanksgiving break. For Democrats, hope of reaching a deal on a 10-year map is fading.
"I think there is still time for Republicans to right this ship but this ball is in their court,” said State Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes.