Ohio’s political mapmakers are going back to work after Republican infighting caused a week’s delay
Sep 20, 2023, 11:50 AM
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Redistricting Commission was set to get back to business Wednesday after two Republican legislative leaders who may be rivals for the House speakership next year settled a political dispute that delayed the time-crunched panel’s work by a week.
Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine had reconvened the commission Sept. 13, but he was unable to do anything more than swear in its members — himself, two other statewide officeholders and four state lawmakers — because Republicans were without a co-chair. Indecision persisted, so the governor also canceled a second attempted meeting he had set for that Friday.
DeWine set the next meeting for Wednesday afternoon, then he came down with COVID-19 — precluding him from pinch-hitting as chair while Senate President Matt Huffman and House Speaker Jason Stephens came to some agreement.
Hours before the meeting was set to begin, Huffman and Stephens announced their decision. They designated a seemingly neutral third party without a particular stake in what the districts House members run in look like next year: Republican Ohio Auditor Keith Faber, as their party’s co-chair.
The two-term auditor has served previously in both legislative chambers, including a stint as Senate president. He also was the only Republican during last year’s failed efforts at drawing constitutional maps to vote against any of the GOP-drawn plans. All were tossed by the Ohio Supreme Court, which found they were gerrymandered to favor the GOP.
The Redistricting Commission’s two Democrats — Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio and House Minority Leader Allison Russo — said last week that they had their co-chair decisions made and were just awaiting Republicans’ decision. The pair introduced a set of maps for Ohio House and Ohio Senate districts Tuesday that they said could meet constitutional muster.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has said it would be ideal to have constitutional maps in place by this Friday.