-By Sabrina Eaton
November 11, 2012- Even though most Ohio voters backed Democrats in this year’s presidential and U.S. Senate elections, new congressional maps designed to protect GOP incumbents kept three quarters of the state’s U.S. House of Representatives seats in Republican hands.
When new congressional districts were drawn last year, Republicans who control Ohio’s state legislature did their best to ensure their party’s edge in Congress for the next decade by packing the most possible Democratic voters into the fewest possible districts.
That’s how a swing state with a fairly even political divide will end up being represented in Congress next year by 12 Republicans and four Democrats.
“This is a tossup state, the battleground of battlegrounds, except when you stack the deck,” says Steve Fought, a Democrat who worked on the congressional campaigns of Toledo’s Marcy Kaptur and Copley Township’s Betty Sutton. “That is the only way they were able to hold their power in Ohio and the only way they were able to hold their power in the House of Representatives. But you have to give them credit. They knew what they were doing and it worked.”
Republicans in Ohio deny the deck is stacked in their favor. Cory Fritz, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner of West Chester, says that Republicans won the bulk of Ohio’s House races “by listening to Buckeye State voters who want Washington to focus on growing America’s economy and helping small businesses create jobs.”
And Ohio Republican Party spokesman Matt Henderson notes that Democrats across the country gained House seats “with redistricting systems similar to ours.”
For example, Democrats gained four House of Representatives seats in Illinois this year after their party redrew election districts to help their own candidates.