COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) — By a vote of 24 to 7, the Ohio Senate approved the congressional district map on Tuesday. All indications Tuesday night are that this will be the final map in what has been a long process of redistricting Ohio.
Now it heads to the House, where sources say it’s expected to pass — the vote will most likely take place on Wednesday. As has been the case throughout the process, Republicans like it and Democrats don’t.
The map keeps Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties together, putting them with the rest of the counties now represented by Republican Bill Johnson. But Democratic state Representative Michael O’Brien of Warren says that’s wrong.
“The Mahoning Valley’s congressman, who used to live in Howland — and before that, lived in Poland and before that, lived in Trumbull County and before that, lived in Youngstown — now lives two hours away,” O’Brien said.
The proposed map was given an “F” by the Princeton Gerrymandering Project because the watchdog group claims it gives a significant advantage to Republican candidates, but Republican leaders say otherwise.
“This is a very fair map. We have quite a few competitive districts and it follows a constitutional requirement,” said Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp (R).
O’Brien says he wouldn’t be surprised if the map is challenged in court. He says the change needs to start with the people on the committee who drew the maps — five Republicans and two Democrats.
“Four Republicans, four Democrats, then we would be able to have fair districts,” O’Brien said.
“It’s not just the people who showed up here and testified. There’s 11 million people in the state of Ohio, 11 million plus, and they communicate their issues on a variety of ways,” said Senate President Matt Huffman (R).
The Ohio House of Representatives has a supermajority of Republicans, more than enough to make its way to the governor’s desk.
But O’Brien says he believes no Democrats will vote to pass it, which means the map would only be good for four years instead of 10.
“All the voters asked for were fair districts, fair competitive districts, and these districts are worse than we had before,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien did say that the only good thing to come out of the map was that Mahoning County and Trumbull County were in the same district.
We reached out to multiple Valley Republicans but haven’t heard back.