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Ohio Redistricting Compromise Looks Dead

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. Steve Stivers is not optimistic about a compromise on Ohio's new Congressional map.

Ohio Republicans are likely to move forward with the redistricting plan that became law last month and risk a Democratic effort to overturn the lines via referendum after an attempt to forge a compromise stalled.

"I think it's dead," freshman Rep. Steve Stivers (R), a former state senator, said Friday about a revised map that the state Legislature was expected to take up.

He said the compromise unveiled this week is "pretty unimportant at this point because it didn't have the votes in the House and the Senate is not going to take it up. I think that the map as proposed yesterday is not going to happen."

After the map failed to garner any Democratic support for a procedural vote in the state House Thursday, Ohio Republicans said they would make changes to it in committee and try again next week. But by Friday afternoon, GOP House Members and Ohio sources said they were probably sticking to the original version of the new Congressional map passed in September.

Sources warned the situation is fluid, but using the original map ensures Democrats will try to challenge it via a ballot initiative. It also solidifies that Senate and Congressional primaries will remain scheduled on separate dates in March and June, respectively.

"We are going with Plan A," Rep. Steven LaTourette (R) said Friday. "My understanding is we're going to try to see if they can get 240,000 signatures [to have a ballot referendum] and if they don't, we're going to have a primary in June based on the map that's already passed."

The revised map included no sweeping changes to the original version passed in September. The GOP-drawn map was expected to produce a delegation made up of 12 Republicans and 4 Democrats, and it forced at least one Member-vs.-Member race in each party.

But there were significant changes to two districts. The revised map shifted population around Toledo to help Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) in a primary against Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D). It also moved more of Rep. Steve Austria's (R) current district into Stivers's redrawn district, instead of into the same district with Rep. Michael Turner (R).

Democrats "made these demands in Toledo for Ms. Kaptur, they made demands in other parts of the state, we exceeded them all. ... And they don't deliver any votes," LaTourette said. "So why we should negotiate with them so they don't vote for it again? No, we're going to have an referendum. And good luck to them. I hope they can collected the 240,000 signatures, but enough already."

At least a couple of Members of the delegation were not on board with the revisions.

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