WASHINGTON -- Under a new redistricting plan that will be unveiled by Ohio's GOP-controlled state legislature Tuesday afternoon, 12 of the state's 16 congressional districts are expected to become more favorable to Republicans, while currently serving Democrats may find their constituencies split up into multiple districts, according to reports about the plan.
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 will lose two congressional districts and the borders of the remaining districts will be redrawn. The new map will make many Republican districts safer for incumbents while forcing Democrats into tough reelection battles. 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.
While several Democrats could find themselves fighting with each other to stay in Congress, one new blue seat will likely be created. The map will create a district that combines Democratic areas of Franklin County, including parts of the capital city of Columbus.
A likely frontrunner in the race would be former congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy, a Democrat who lost reelection in the nearby 15th district in 2010. The district, now held by Republican Rep. Steve Stivers, currently includes the city of Columbus. Kilroy has also won two county-wide elections for Franklin County commissioner.
"One could say that the path to the U.S. Congress runs through Mary Jo Kilroy," said an Ohio Democratic insider.
Sources close to Kilroy told The Huffington Post the former congresswoman would be inclined to run if the district is drawn favorably.
Both Stivers and Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R) are expected to benefit from the redistricting, since Democratic areas that currently fall within their districts would become part of the new Democratic-leaning district instead.
The new map is also expected to combine the districts of Democratic Reps. Marcy Kaptur, who currently represents the 9th district, and Dennis Kucinich, who represents the 10th. If they both decided to run in the new district, they would face off in a primary.
Whether they decide to run again will, of course, hinge on how the two districts are merged and which member would retain the most constituents in the new district.
Kaptur is the most senior woman in the House and an outspoken critic of policies benefiting wealthy Americans and corporations. Kucinich is one of the most liberal members of Congress, frequently speaking out against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and championing a single-payer health care system.
Kucinich has said he may consider running for Congress outside of Ohio -- possibly in Seattle -- if redistricting forces him out.
Rep. Betty Sutton (D), who represents the 13th district, will also likely face a match-up against Rep. Jim Renacci (R) of the 16th district, in a new district that's being drawn to favor Republicans. Her spokesman told The Cleveland Plain Dealer that she would be running for reelection regardless.
"While we haven't seen a map, Betty Sutton is running because the stakes are at an all-time high for the hard-working, middle-class people she has been fighting for and representing from Northeast Ohio," said spokesman Anthony DeAngelo. "She's prepared for whatever lies ahead."
Some Democrats have expressed concern over the rapid timeline set for approving the redistricting proposal. On Monday, state Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) wrote a letter to state Rep. Matt Huffman (R-Lima), chairman of the State Government and Elections Subcommittee on Redistricting, objecting to the way the process has unfolded.
"Redistricting is moving fast and, despite the pleas of the public that we all heard when we traveled the state for regional hearings, the map under consideration has not been released to the public nor to members of the State Government and Elections committee. Meanwhile, we have a possible vote scheduled for less than 48 hours from now," she wrote.
"We need to step back and take the time to do this right with bipartisan support for whatever plan the legislature adopts."
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