In 2009 and 2010, when Democrats controlled Ohio’s House under then-Speaker Armond Budish, they made a bad bet: They gambled they’d keep control of the House at 2010’s election and then-Gov. Ted Strickland would be re-elected. Those development would give Democrats horse-trading clout with Senate Republicans in shaping new congressional districts in 2011 (after the 2010 Census).
But 2010, like 2018, was a mid-presidential election (with Barack Obama in the White House). Voters gave Ohio’s House to Republicans, led by crafty Medina conservative William G. Batchelder, and replaced Strickland with Westerville Republican John R. Kasich.
Backstory: In September 2009, state Senate Republicans passed, 21-12, a redistricting reform proposed by then-Sen. Jon Husted, a Kettering Republican who’s now secretary of state. Senate Democrats voted “no” on Husted’s proposal, Senate Republicans, “yes.”
Budish’s Democratic House stalled action on Husted’s plan until December 2010, after Democrats had lost their House majority. In 2010’s post-election (lame-duck) session, Democrats, new converts to the cause of redistricting reform (because it could crimp the GOP when it redistricted congressional seats in 2011) finally let the House vote on Husted ‘s plan. The tally: 47 “yesses” to 49 “noes,” killing it. Democrats, with no power to lose in 2011, voted “yes.” But Republicans, who’d rule the House during 2011’s redistricting, voted no. Among the “noes”: Then-Rep. Matt Huffman, now a state senator and the lead sponsor of this year’s SJR 5.
This time, both sides of the aisle backed redistricting. That’s as good a barometer as there is that Ohioans inside the Statehouse recognize what Ohioans outside the Statehouse decided long ago: Rigging U.S. House districts, which guarantees congressional deadlock, is a curse that needs to end.