With the threat of a delayed primary and penalties from the Ohio Supreme Court, four Republicans approved a third set of state House and Senate maps over the objections of Democrats and GOP Auditor Keith Faber.
Because the maps passed without Democratic support, they would only last four years. The Ohio Supreme Court will review whether they abide by voter-approved changes to the Ohio Constitution to curb partisan gerrymandering.
Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, said the new maps approved by the Ohio Redistricting Commission would give Republicans a 54-45 advantage in the House and an 18-15 advantage in the Senate. That’s a change from the previously rejected maps, which gave the GOP a 57-42 advantage in the House and 20-13 edge in the Senate.
Those numbers would also hit what the Ohio Supreme Court requested: plans that met the statewide voting preferences of Ohioans – which amount to about 54% for Republican candidates and 46% for Democratic ones over the past decade.
But Democrats argued that those numbers were smoke and mirrors. House Minority Leader Allison Russo, D-Upper Arlington, said 19 of the Democratic House districts and seven Senate districts were more like tossups, which she defined as between 48% and 52%.
“If you read the very plain language of the court decision, it’s quite clear that asymmetry is about these monolithic disparities,” said Russo, who first saw the maps at 12:30 p.m. Thursday…
The commission was under pressure to deliver new maps quickly. It missed a court-imposed deadline last week and now members face a contempt of court hearing before the Ohio Supreme Court Tuesday.
The Ohio Supreme Court has ordered commission members to appear Tuesday to explain why they missed the court’s deadline to approve new maps. On Wednesday, members of the commission asked for more time to avoid any punishments.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a member of the commission, has said it’s impossible to see a way to hold a complete primary on May 3. But the commission approved language that would allow candidates to move within 30 days to a new district if needed.