As previously reported, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge’s new district may link inner city Cleveland with the more heavily minority sections of Akron, linked largely by the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area. This tip of the hand may give us an early look at a more general picture of redistricting in the state. I offer the following thoughts.
First, I’m starting from a few assumptions which may or may not be correct in a particular situation. I assume that incubent protection will be a, if not the, primary motivator whenever possible. Party politics will enter into the calculation only after incumbent protection is addressed as completely as possible. However, that’s not to say there won’t be ample opportunity for party politics. While the overall number of “safe” seats for Democrats may not vary much from the current level, that does not prevent the Republicans from making life as miserable as possible for Democrats by giving them a largely new constituency, even if it is still largely Democrat.
I’m addressing Northeast Ohio because that’s the area of the state in which I live and am most familiar with. I won’t pretend to be able to make even an educated guess as to what’s going to happen in Columbus or Cincinnati. I’ll leave that to others.
My starting point is the total Ohio population of about 11.5 milion divided by 16 Congressional districts, for an average Congressional district population of about 721,000.
Beginning in the far Northeast of the state, Steve LaTourette’s district won’t change much, largely because it can’t. The northern and eastern boundaries of the district are set by the State’s boundaries and Ashatabula, Lake and Geauga counties provide almost 425,000 residents. In the name of incumbent protection, LaTourette’s district may extend slightly further into Eastern Cuyhoga and Summit counties to provide him with the more affluent (and more Republican) areas of those counties (Hunting Valley, Solon, Hudson). Northern Trumbull county may remain in this district if additional population is needed, but I think this is doubtful.
To the south of that district, Tim Ryan’s district will likely also remain largely the same but may shift south slightly. Portage and Mahoning counties provide about 400,000 residents and the remainder are likely to be made up from most or all of Trumbull county and parts of Stark county. Ryan may lose parts of Summit county.
Marcia Fudge’s district, the new barbell-shaped Cleveland-Akron connector, will have boundaries largely determined by efforts to maximize minority populations within the district boudaries. Southern (Green) and eastern (Tallmadge, Cuyahoga Falls) Summit county may be added to Jim Renacci’s district (16th), which would at least partially wrap around Akron. This would not necessarily help the freshamn Renacci, so care would need to be taken to maximize the Republican concentration of the new territory.
Dennis the Menace’s district (currently the 10th) could then run parallel to Maricia Fudges district, keeping Parma, and exchanging parts of Summit and Medina counties currently in Betty Sutton’s district with the far western portions of the current 10th. Sutton’s district would expand into parts of Lorain currently in Marcy Kaptur’s district. This doesn’t change the overall political make up of Kucinich’s, Sutton’s or Kaptur’s districts, but it does create a slight distraction to them of making it necessary for them to introduce themselves to their new constiuents.
Unfortunately, given the population density, I don’t see too many ways to combine Sutton’s and the Menace’s districts so as to force them into a primary against each other. While Cuyahoga county has lost population, Lorain and Median have gained population. While my outline doesn’t directly eliminate any districts, it does generally shift the boundaries of the existing districts such that districts could be eliminated elsewhere. That’s not chauvansim for northeast Ohio. That’s just how the numbers here work.