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Ohio: Congressional redistricting underway

4:46 PM, Jul 14, 2011   |    comments
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COLUMBUS --  Republicans are in control of Ohio's Congressional redistricting.

State lawmakers have taken the first steps toward redrawing the state's Congressional districts.

Because Ohio is growing slower than the rest of the nation, it will lose two seats in Congress, based on census figures.

Cleveland State University's Levin College of Urban Affairs just provided the state with precinct-by-precinct information.

Project coordinator Mark Salling says it is just raw data. There are no suggested new maps or district configuration.

Republican former Lakewood Mayor Dave Harbarger had hands-on involvement with the last three redistricting efforts.

The ideal goal of redistricting is to create districts that are  balanced and competitive between parties. Ohio is a battleground, middle ground state.

But Republicans control the process this year by controlling the state legislature and Governor's office.  The House, then the Senate act on crearing the new districts and the Governor signs the plan.

Harbarger readily admits that, no matter which party is in control, this is a partisan effort. Creating districts to capture the most seats for the party is the goal. Republicans favor Republicans. Democrats favor Democrats.

It's a given that Northeast Ohio will lose a district because of heavy population loss. Most of the speculation centers on Congressman Dennis Kucinich being a Republican target. They couldn't beat him at the polls.

Some speculate he may be forced to run against a neighboring Democrat, such as Betty Sutton, Marcy Kaptur or Marcia Fudge.

Kucinich has spent lots of time in Washington state trying to woo voters there to maybe run for a newly-created Congressional seat. Media and politicos have not rolled out the red carpet.

Kucinich was unresponsive when asked this week if he had decided where to run.

"I'm glad to be in Cleveland today and glad to be supporting this project," he said, at the announcement that the federal government will provide specific workers to deal with Cleveland's problems and projects.

But he and no one yet knows what his district will look like.

Many observers belive one Democrat and one Republican district will be eliminated.

The redistricting process could carry over into next year. A later May primary may give more time to candidates and voters to figure out the new districts.

Democratic Former Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis thinks his party should have accepted an idea by former House Speaker Jon Husted to switch to a less partisan redistricting system.

The League of Women Voters and other organizations would like more public involvement and transparency in the redistricting process.

People with a computer and the necessary savvy could attempt to draw their own new district map of the state.

Groups are sponsoring a contest with a cash prize for the best entry. More information is at www.drawthelineohio.org.

Secretary of State Jon Husted is expected to have a website to comment on the redistricting process.

Tom Beres discusses Congressional redistricting with Cleveland State's Mark Salling, Republican former Lakewood Mayor Dave Harbarger and Democratic former Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis on the Sunday July 17th edition of Between the Lines which airs just after 10 a.m.

WKYC-TV

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