Republicans will want to avoid spreading themselves too thin in order to maximize the number of seats they control in the state. At the same time, they want to avoid creating competitive districts that can become prime targets in a neutral or Democratic-leaning political environment.
Members would rather have a safer district than having a more competitive seat that requires that they have to constantly endure competitive re-election races.
It’s no secret that Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R) would like to have some of the fast-growing suburbs north of Columbus removed from his 12th district, but that area has to go to someone. Rep.-elect Steve Stivers (R) already has the bulk of Franklin County, including Ohio State University, in the 15th district — one that could be tough to hold in a presidential election.
Rep. Steve Austria (R) already has a small part of Franklin County in the 7th, but he might have a difficult time winning re-election if more is added, moving his district’s population center from the west — where he is from — to the east.
With a decade of political livelihood at stake, these Members will not take the upcoming redistricting process lightly. In Ohio, the Congressional lines will originate in the state Legislature — a familiar place for many Republicans in the Congressional delegation.
“You’ll have a lot of former legislators lobbying their friends,” said Carey, who ran for the state House back in 1998 and lost to Wilson.
Republican Reps. Latta, Tiberi, Austria, Jim Jordan, Jean Schmidt, and John Boehner, as well as Reps.-elect Gibbs and Stivers, all served in the Legislature before being elected to Congress.
If one Republican Member challenged Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) for his Senate seat in 2012, it would make the process easier because their district could then be parceled out to others. But there is no immediate movement to do so. Tiberi and Jordan have been mentioned, but neither seems likely.