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DeWine makes Ohio’s new congressional districts official with signature

(The Center Square) – Ohio has new congressional districts that will last only four years after Gov. Mike DeWine approved the Republican-dominated General Assembly’s plan that received no Democratic support.

DeWine said the GOP’s map provided a fair and competitive alternative to any other options presented.

“When compared to the other proposals offered from House and Senate caucuses, both Republican and Democrat, the map in SB 258 makes the most progress to produce a fair, compact, and competitive map,” DeWine said Saturday after approving the map. “The SB 258 map has fewer county splits and city splits than these recent proposals and the current congressional map. With seven competitive congressional districts in the SB 258 map, this map significantly increases the number of competitive districts versus the current map.”

State Democrats, who sent a letter to DeWine on Friday asking him to veto the proposal, called the map one of the worst cases of gerrymandering in state history that gave Republicans a 13-2 advantage.

“In 2018, then Attorney General DeWine said that if he became governor, he would ensure the redistricting process honored the voters’ wishes for bipartisanship,” House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes, D-Akron, said in a statement. “Today, he went back on his word and betrayed Ohio voters by signing into law the most egregiously gerrymandered congressional map in the country, which splits apart communities and unduly favors Republicans 13-2.”

Democrats offered an alternative map on the House floor Thursday, claiming it limited splits in some of the state’s largest counties, but the amendment was tabled.

Seven of Ohio’s eight largest cities are contained within congressional boundaries for the first time in 50 years under the new map. Cincinnati is in one district for the first time in 100 years.

Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Youngstown, Toledo, Cincinnati and Dayton all stay combined in one district. Only Columbus, the state’s largest city, will be split because its population exceeds the limit for a single district.

The map splits 12 counties when the state constitution allows up to 23 counties to be split, and House Speaker Bob Cupp, R-Lima, said it does not unduly favor or disfavor any political party or incumbents.

The job of redrawing congressional districts went back to the General Assembly after the state’s new Ohio Redistricting Commission missed a deadline to draw new maps. A 10-year map would have needed to be approved by all House Republicans and at least half the Democrats. A four-year map needed only a simple majority.

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