How perfect is this? A state leader with aspirations to be commander-in-chief rails against a lopsided, partisan system of legislative district map making he voted for then signed into law?
But that’s basic Kasich, complain about situation he was a key player in creating, and could have changed dramatically had he been as manipulative with it as has now been revealed he was with he and his administration’s behind-the-scenes efforts on budgeting and taking over Youngstown’s public school systems.
Governing At The Extremes
Ohio’s term-limited governor speaks about the state’s terribly gerrymandered districts as if he were an innocent bystander, when by law he was central to its outcome.
“I support redistricting reform dramatically,” Ohio’s term-limited governor John Kasich said last week, according to reports. “This will be something I’m going to do whether I’m elected president or whether I’m here. We carve these safe districts, and then when you’re in a safe district you have to watch your extremes, and you keep moving to the extremes.”
Spending more time outside of Ohio than inside it these days, as he runs his low-voltage campaign for president, Mr. Kasich voted in 2011, just months after he was elected with a thin win of just two percent in 2010 over former Gov. Ted Strickland, to create the legislative districts in use now that he’s vowing to change either in Washington or in Columbus.
“We need to eliminate gerrymandering. We’ve got to figure out a way to do it,” he said, the Columbus Dispatch reported. “We’ve got to have more competitive districts. That, to me, is what’s good for the state of Ohio and good for the country.”
Ohio’s current congressional districts were drawn by a top-heavy, Republican-dominated legislature. The 132 members of the legislature, controlled by super-majorities in both the House and Senate, gerrymandered districts to favor Republicans. Anyone who looks at a map of today’s legislative districts can see they are oddly shaped in order to give GOP candidates control of 12 of Ohio’s 16 congressional seats.
It doesn’t take a wizard to understand that every ten years, following census gathering, a majority of three statewide seats—Governor, Auditor, Secretary of State—determine what districts look like. Gov. Kasich, Secretary of State Jon Husted and State Auditor David Yost went along with the very partisan design of Ohio’s congressional districts with little if any pushback.
Kasich Suffers From Teflonitis
At the time, Gov. Kasich defended himself as not being part of the map making process. All he did, he claims, was sign the bill making it all possible.
So there’s Gov. Kasich, going along with the flow of yet another bad bill, as he’s done on any number of other issues—women’s health care, voter suppression, bilking local governments of billions to mention just three. A Clermont County Republican sued John Kasich, Sec. Husted and Auditor Yost, asking a county judge to draw new lines. John Kasich claimed he had no part in drawing the new lines, and only signed the bill establishing them.
The Ohio Apportionment Board is responsible for legislative redistricting. It’s composed of the Governor, State Auditor, Secretary of State and two members selected by the legislative leaders of the two major parties. Ohio differs from many state redistricting commissions because it’s not bi-partisan. In 2011, four of the committee’s five members were Republicans, including Gov. Kasich.
On Monday, September 26, 2011, Gov. Kasich signed the state’s congressional redistricting plan, according to information found at ballotpedia.org.
Controversy arose when emails stemming from a public records request revealed that the Ohio congressional map was drawn to protect Republican incumbents.
“The emails show that top aides to the National Republican Congressional Committee and House Speaker John Boehner (R) shaped the map-making process,” the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting found.
“For example, an Ohio manufacturer and donor to Rep. Jim Renacci (R) was moved to Renacci’s new district at the request of Boehner’s aide. The emails also reveal that map-drawing was moved to a rented hotel room for three months to give the process greater privacy.”
Kasich Keeps Keeping Quiet
Least it be forgotten, part of the manipulation Gov. Kasich was likely party to, before passing the state’s congressional redistricting plan, was the GOP-led General Assembly’s gambit to add a $2.75 million appropriation to help local Boards of Elections implement the plan. Defenders of the move said the bill should count as an appropriations bill and be exempted from a veto referendum per the Ohio Constitution. Kasich kept quiet through it all.
In yet another sleight-of-hand move, Mr. Husted rejected preliminary signatures for a referendum against Ohio’s congressional redistricting plan, even though proponents had more than enough signatures to qualify for statewide circulation. The rejection was based on the appropriation within the redistricting bill. Kasich kept quiet through it all.
When Mr. Kasich likes a bill, like Senate Bill 5, he can marshal his resources and people to get behind it. Staying quiet and claiming he wasn’t a material part of the process, as he’s done with redistricting, is basic Kasich.
After nearly 40 years spent as a professional performance politician, Ohio’s governor now says “We’ve got to figure out a way to do it.” Yet he offers not a hint of a clue.