The GOP-controlled Ohio legislature recently approved a heavily gerrymandered Congressional map that gives Republicans an advantage in 12 of the state’s 16 congressional districts, despite the fact that the state is roughly evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. Moreover, according to newly released documents, Ohio residents can blame the Speaker of the House for turning many of their congressional elections into little more than a sham:
The correspondence includes a pledge by GOP Senate President Tom Niehaus to deliver “a map that Speaker Boehner fully supports.” … As the unveiling of the Republicans’ congressional map neared, [Boehner campaign staffer Tom] Whatman was averaging a request a day, including a suggested boundary change affecting the Canton-based Timken Co., led by a prolific Republican political donor.
“Guys: really really sorry to ask but can we do a small carve out down 77 in Canton and put Timken in the 16th (district),” Whatman wrote on Sept. 12. After the request is approved, Whatman replies, “Thanks guys. Very important to someone important to us all.”
Ohio voters shouldn’t only blame Boehner, however, for engineering this map intended to ensure Republican victories regardless of what the people of the state want. Much of the blame also rests with the Supreme Court, which largely abdicated oversight over politically motivated gerrymanders in a case called Vieth v. Jubelirer.
Ohio’s voters are not completely powerless against this transparent power grab, however. The Ohio Democratic Party is circulating petitions seeking to place the map on the ballot in 2012 — allowing voters to strike it down just like they struck down Gov. John Kasich’s (R-OH) assault on Ohio workers.