Journal Opinion: Might Doesn’t Make Right

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio –  We’re not sure the Republican majority on the Ohio Redistricting Commission could be more emphatic in its contempt for Ohioans than it proved to be this year. 

In August, voters will cast primary ballots for seats in the Ohio House of Representatives and Senate, as well as for the Democratic and Republican Party state central committees. As adopted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission, the maps would create 54 Republican and 45 Democratic House seats and 18 Republican and 15 Democratic Senate seats, according to a Dayton Daily News story. 

Of those, however, 19 House seats and seven Senate seats would lean Democratic by less than 4%, while no Republican seat would have a margin that close.

That map – the third proposed by the redistricting commission – was ruled unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court and later versions also were ruled unacceptable. Ordered by the state high court to produce a sixth set of maps by June 3, the commission – in the most cynical move in a process suffused with cynicism – simply let that deadline pass, permitting federal judges to put in place the previously rejected third map. 

In May, Ohioans voted for primary candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives based on a district map that similarly was approved along party lines. It established 10 Republican-leaning districts, three Democratic-leaning districts and two tossups.

Because the congressional and state district maps received no Democratic votes, neither will be in place for the full 10 years they normally would be once adopted.

The state Supreme Court has called for district maps that more closely reflect Ohio’s partisan split, 54% Republican, 46% Democrat.

That certainly seemed to be the intent of Ohioans when they voted to create the commission, whose members include the governor, auditor and secretary of state, as well as individuals appointed by the state Senate president and House speaker, and House and Senate minority leaders.

There is no question that Ohio has increasingly leaned Republican in recent elections. The state twice voted for Donald Trump, with strong support in the historically Democratic Mahoning Valley, which now has a mix of Democrats and Republicans in its delegation to the General Assembly after decades of one-party dominance.

Even so, the commission’s callous disregard of the clear intent of Ohio voters demonstrates the majority’s disrespect for them.

One-party dominance is never healthy. It engendered a culture of corruption by Democrats in the Mahoning Valley for decades. And in Columbus, it led to the GOP Coingate scandal less than two decades ago and, more recently, a bribery scheme to pass a bailout that benefited FirstEnergy.

Might doesn’t make right, no matter who’s in power.