WASHINGTON -- Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) signaled on Tuesday evening that he may be staying in Ohio to fight for re-election after state Republicans released a redistricting plan that reshapes the liberal congressman's district.
"It is an amazing turn of events that the legislature decided not to dismantle the district I represent," said Kucinich in a statement. "I have been praying that I could continue to serve my Cleveland-area constituency and it looks like I have a chance. That is all I could have hoped for."
Ohio currently has 18 U.S. House seats, 13 of which are held by Republicans. But because of the population losses recorded by the 2010 U.S. Census, the state is losing two congressional districts and the borders of the remaining districts are being redrawn. Under the new scenario, 12 of Ohio's 16 districts will lean Republican.
The new electoral map released on Tuesday by the GOP-controlled legislature makes several Republican districts safer for incumbents, while forcing Democrats into tough re-election battles.
Kucinich was, in the weeks leading up to the release of the redistricting plan, expected to be at risk, with his district either being totally eliminated or merged with the seat held by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio).
In July, he had floated running for Congress outside of Ohio -- possibly in Seattle -- if redistricting forced him out.
Kucinich still found his base diminished when the map was released, but the new district retains the west side of Cleveland, which Kucinich saw as a potentially positive sign of his re-election chances.
If both he and Kaptur decide to seek re-election, they will face each other in a primary battle.
Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio) also found herself drawn into the same district as Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio). The new district, however, will lean Republican, giving Sutton a tough re-election fight.
On the Republican side, Reps. Steve Austria and Michael Turner are now in the same district, and they will have to run against each other if they seek re-election.
For the most part, however, the map strengthens the GOP base of Republican incumbents. Reps. Steve Stivers and Patrick Tiberi are going to be representing districts that are more conservative because Democratic areas that currently fall within their districts would become part of a new Democratic-leaning district instead.
The Ohio House of Representatives is expected to vote on the plan by the end of this week, and the state Senate will do so sometime next week.
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