The criticism constantly swirling around the redistricting process over the past couple of months has certainly worked to the Democrats’ favor. From the beginning of the process, they apparently were only interested in obstructing the process and standing in the way of the legislative lines being drawn.
At the beginning of the process, Republicans and Democrats were given equal amounts of public money. The purpose of this money was to conduct research and generate new congressional maps. Only after seeing each map could the two sides come together and make revisions and concessions. Republicans used their resources for the intended purposes—drawing a new map. Meanwhile, however, Democrats were using their money to hire Innovation Ohio, a liberal think tank designed to help the party with matters that they obviously believed were more important, such as generating a negative PR campaign against Republicans and assessing possible violations.
Knowing this, it is not surprising that at the time the first map was to be debated on the House floor, Democrats were unable to offer a map of their own. In fact, the only map they ever introduced came from a Republican state legislator in Illinois. So, in that way, perhaps they can argue that they reached across the aisle—just not with anyone from this state.
That Democrats have criticized the congressional map is fair. Voicing concerns and opinions in a public setting is what being a legislator is all about. But for them to continually sling rocks and arrows at Republicans, without submitting a map of their own is irresponsible and, frankly, unfair to the taxpayers they represent.
Despite the highly contentious atmosphere generated by the drawing of new district lines, I am happy with the final product. House Bill 369, which established the new boundaries, passed through both the House and Senate with vast bipartisan support. Because of Ohio’s slowing population growth over the past decade, the state has lost two seats in Congress. We took a bipartisan approach to cutting these seats, including drawing two Republicans into a primary and two Democrats into a primary.
It repealed the provision in the previous redistricting bill that established two primary dates, rightfully restoring a single primary date. The bill also addresses the contempt and anger that many people have against this process by establishing an eight-member, bipartisan panel of legislators that will propose ideas for how district lines should be drawn in Ohio. Those meetings are already underway.
My goal is that, by the next time these lines need to be drawn, legislators will be forced to add two congressional seats, as opposed to subtracting them. For that to happen, we must remain committed to our primary goal in the legislature: bringing jobs back to Ohio. We are off to a good start, and I expect more good things to come.