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Austria stopped in at the state Capitol in Columbus Thursday to speak with lawmakers about the map. The former state Senator urged his old colleagues not to carve up his base in Fairfield County in the revised map, according to one well-placed Ohio source.
Austria's office denied that he lobbied for his district during his day-long trip to Columbus, where he was attending a funeral. Instead, an aide characterized Austria's mission as "trying to get information."
In the revised map, much of Austria's territory, including Fairfield County, was moved into Stivers' 15th district. The shift fuled speculation that Austria could challenge Stivers instead of Turner.
But the two Ohio Republicans are friends. Stivers encouraged Austria to run for 2010 freshman class president, and they share an entire consulting team.
The Austria aide insisted the Congressman is "just keeping his options open," but Stivers expressed confidence he would never face Austria in a primary.
"He's a friend," Stivers said. "I don't expect we'll ever be running against each other. That's something that doesn't keep me awake at night at all."
Proposed population shifts in northwest Ohio sparked controversy among Democrats. The revised map would have moved 90,000 additional voters from Kaptur's Toledo base into the new 9th district, which would stretch east along the lakeshore to Kucinich's west Cleveland territory.
Kucinich lobbied against the revised map in automated calls around Cleveland, urging voters to ask state lawmakers to vote against it. He called three state lawmakers personally to make his case, and sent out a fundraising email about the situation.
His position put him at odds with Democrats, including Kaptur, who continue to hold out for another compromise map.
"That was probably an ill-advised move," Kaptur said of her future primary opponent. "I am working for a plan in Ohio that's fair to all Democrats, those that are seated and those that might serve here in the future."
On Tuesday, when Ohio voters head to the polls for the 2011 election, Democrats will begin their big push to collect signatures to challenge the map on the 2012 ballot. If they are successful in collecting enough signatures by the late December deadline, it's likely that courts will decide which Congressional map will be used for next year's elections.