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With Deadline Looming Republicans Talking With Democrats On Possible Deal For Ohio Statehouse Maps

Ohio Redistricting Commission meets for last public hearing at the Ohio Statehouse before Wednesday's deadline to approve new maps.
Daniel Konick
Ohio Public Radio
Ohio Redistricting Commission meets for last public hearing at the Ohio Statehouse before Wednesday's deadline to approve new maps.

Statewide elected officials on the Ohio Redistricting Commission said they have been meeting with Democrat leaders on a possible deal for new Ohio House and Ohio Senate district maps ahead of Wednesday's deadline.

The commission is currently considering maps proposed by the Republican legislative caucuses led by Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima). Those maps would retain GOP supermajorities in the state legislature.

Proposed changes from Democratic legislative leaders create districts likely to lean towards 57 Republican seats and 42 Democratic seats in the House and 20 Republican seats and 13 Democratic seats in the Senate.

Ohio House And Senate Minority Caucuses
Ohio House and Ohio Senate districts proposed by Democrat legislative caucus leaders.

Ohio Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose said he can envision himself supporting the Democrats’ map, with potential changes.

"The proposal put forth a few days ago by the Democrats is an offer in good faith. And that by definition is a place to start and a place to work from and that's what we're doing as we speak," LaRose said during a break in Tuesday's commission meeting.

LaRose and Ohio Republican Auditor Keith Faber have been meeting with Democratic leaders to negotiate a possible deal.

Four of the seven commission members need to vote for the maps for them to last four years. For 10-year maps, both Democrats need to support them.

Many people lined up for hours of testimony before the commission Tuesday to speak out against gerrymandering and to convey their fear that new district maps will still heavily favor Republicans.

The vast majority shared their disapproval of the commission’s current maps which are drawn by the Republican legislative caucuses. A national expert's analysis says the districts split with a 67-32 Republican advantage in the House and a 25-8 Republican advantage in the Senate.

Ohio Redistricting Commission
District maps, drawn by the House and Senate majority caucuses, were adopted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission.

The Ohio Citizens Redistricting Commission submitted its own plan, and the group's Samuel Gresham said the state panel should accept their maps instead.

"We've done the work for you. You don't have to go any further. And I want to let you know that if you draw another map and you have to go to court, we're gonna use our map to show the difference," Gresham said.

The citizens group’s map still has a likely Republican majority but it splits 54-46, proportional to recent statewide election results.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.