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It’s unusual that Ohio Republicans opted to pit two more senior Members against each other while shoring up the districts of several freshmen. Traditionally, mapmakers target Members with less seniority, although redistricting is a notoriously unpredictable process.
A veteran of close House races, GOP Rep. Steve Stivers’ new 15th district sprawls from counties west of Columbus though southeast Ohio almost to the state’s border with West Virginia. The Z-shaped district is ungainly but much more Republican than his previously competitive seat.
The GOP also aided one of Democrats' most frequent targets: Rep. Steve Chabot. The new 1st district now includes Republican-rich Warren County, making it a likely Republican seat instead of a battleground district.
Republicans did not help GOP Rep. Jean Schmidt’s district in southwest Ohio, throwing more Cincinnati Democrats into it. But it could have been worse: Some early reports had indicated Schmidt’s district could get the ax this cycle.
Finally, Republicans drew a new, heavily Democratic House seat in downtown Columbus. There have been many close contests in the current 15th district around west Columbus, the state’s largest city. Republicans decided to save their campaign cash by drawing an urban seat intended for a new Democrat there.
Former Democratic Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy, who lost to Stivers last year, told a local newspaper that she’s planning to seek her party’s nomination for that seat. Many more Democrats will likely join her in a crowded primary.