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Ohio Dems Want More Time To Collect Signatures

The Ohio Supreme Court's ruling that Ohio Democrats can start a referendum effort on the new congressional redistricting map is prompting the party to make another request. Party leaders are asking the high court to re-start the clock and give them more time to collect signatures. Ohio Democratic Party Chair Chris Redfern wants the court to re-set the clock so the party has a full 90 days to collect petition signatures since more than two weeks has been spent in legal wrangling. And in the meantime, he is calling on Statehouse Republicans to come back to the table, sit down with Democrats, and craft a map that he says needs to be more competitive, more compact, and insure a majority/minority district in Cuyahoga County. Redfern says if Republicans want to negotiate, they need to do it now, not later. "There will become a time in the near days that we will go forth with the referendum and no ability to compromise will be offered because then we would have to insert ourselves in the process of collecting signatures," Redfurn says. "And if we are going to spend between $500,000 and $1 million to collect petition signatures, we are going to commit ourselves to doing so." "We will not allow the Republicans to run out the clock on this." Republicans could pass another map to try to get around this ballot issue. Redfern knows that, and says bring it on. "To get to meet the minimum standard to start the referendum process takes an afternoon. So if (Ohio House) Speaker Batchelder and (Ohio Senate) President Niehaus want to go around us yet again (and pass a plan) that doesn’t bring competitiveness, fairness, and balance, we will go after that map as well." Republican Response The Director of Communications for the Ohio House of Representatives, Mike Dittoe, says Democrats are trying to cause chaos and throw the issue into the hands of a court. "First of all, this was a fair and open process from the beginning and the democrats were absent from that process until the 11th hour," Dittoe says. Dittoe says Democrats did not draw their own map for consideration. He says Republican legislative leaders are still struggling to find a new strategy. "While the Speaker and the Senate President certainly disagree with the ruling from the court, they respect the decision and the Legislature will act accordingly. I know the Speaker and Senate President are working with legal counsel and other interested parties to find out the best solution moving forward," Dittoe says. Dittoe doesn’t rule out any options, including one that would involve legislators drawing a new map…with or without the input of Democrats.