The ability to get the necessary signatures during both the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons was challenging enough. Then there was the delay created by legal challenges. Then the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) decided that it was not willing to contribute to help the Ohio Democratic Party hire the paid circulators who could work full-time to get the signatures. With a petition filing deadline just nine days away, and all indications being that the all-volunteer petition effort would fall short, the Democrats had little choice but to take what they could get as the Republicans became increasingly convinced that there was little threat of a referendum on their partisan congressional redistricting map.
THAT in the nutshell is why we went from this map to the new map (Source: The Columbus Dispatch):
The new map is a marginal improvement, but the districts have not really gotten much more competitive. Republicans are still expected to have a virtual lock on twelve of the sixteen districts. The Fifteenth District doesn’t look like it was drawn by Jackson Pollack anymore. The same can’t be said of the 9th and 11th Districts. Some districts like the Ohio Sixth Congressional district (which features a ’10 rematch between former Congressman Charlie Wilson and freshman Republican Congressman Bill Johnson) didn’t change at all, it appears.
And yes, the Timken peninsula remains perfectly intact.
The Democrats didn’t have a choice. It was cut a deal or be stuck with the map. However, the Republicans had little interest in making major changes since the threat of a referendum was exponentially waning with each passing day.
The GOP response in defending this map has been ridiculous. It seems their fall back position is to point out, time after time, that House Democrats could have enacted a Republican proposal to make redistricting more fair, require more competitive districts, but they stonewalled it last year when the Democrats had the majority. But if the Republicans are going to fault the Democrats for not passing their plan, why is it never pointed out that the Republicans never pushed their own plan once they got the majority?
If the Democratic majority is to be blamed for it not passing in 2010, what stopped the Republicans from passing it in 2011? It’s not like the Republicans couldn’t have passed their own plan if they wanted to. They have the votes and there was sufficient time to do so to make it apply to the current redistricting – if they had wanted.
Who’s really the political hypocrites here? Democrats for not passing a Republican plan, or Republicans who didn’t pass it either when they had the chance and made every effort to go the opposite direction by enacting a scheme of secrecy and partisan interests to guide the map drawers?
In the end, I commend Chairman Redfern for standing up to this map and trying his best to do something about it. The only reason it did not achieve more is, frankly, groups like the DCCC weren’t willing to commit the financial resources necessary. That weakened the Democrats’ hand and resulted in a minor tweek of the map and a moral victory. The other good news is that it avoids a bifuricated primary.