By Catherine Turcer, Policy Analyst Common Cause Ohio
On Primary Election Day, most Ohioans were pulled to the polls by the drama of the presidential election. Would Governor Kasich win his first primary? Hillary or Bernie?
It doesn’t make sense but for many races, voters’ decisions in the Primary are often more
meaningful than the November General Election. Six Ohio House races (House Districts 1, 12, 70, 82, 87 and 96) and one Ohio Senate race (Senate District 2) had contested primaries on March 15. The winners of these primaries will go on to the election in November without an opponent.
In 2011 the state legislature created new congressional districts. Of the sixteen Ohio
congressional districts, twelve districts lean Republican and four give the Democratic Party an advantage. In 2012 and 2014, Republican congressional candidates won in the Republican leaning districts (12 for 12). In those elections, Democratic congressional candidates won in those that give the Democrats the advantage (4 for 4).
That’s the power of gerrymandering! By rigging the district lines, the party in power at the Ohio Statehouse skews election results for years to come.
The challengers to Republican members of Congress in this year’s Primary came from the right. And this isn’t unusual. Fear of a strong Primary challenge can push our representatives to the extremes and make them less likely to compromise.
Unfair, uncompetitive elections in November and partisan gridlock in Washington are the
reason that all voters— left, right and center— should support congressional redistricting
Sixteen incumbent members of the Ohio House and one Ohio Senator ran unopposed in last week’s Primary and will be unopposed in November.
We serve better fair districts that keep communities together and that’s why Ohio voters
overwhelmingly supported 2015’s Issue 1 (more than 70% of voters; winning in all 88 counties). But this only addressed state legislative redistricting. Now it’s time to tackle congressional redistricting reform.
What’s the hold up? The Ohio General Assembly. Speaker of the Ohio House Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) surprisingly describes congressional and state legislative redistrict as “apples and oranges.”
Fair is fair. We need to keep up the pressure and let Speaker Rosenberger know that what’s good for the Statehouse is good for Congress.