Post-Election News and Notes
What's in the news this morning about Ohio's elections:
The Toledo Blade reports today that Democratic candidates for the Ohio House of Representatives together received about 125,000 more votes than Republican candidates. The GOP nevertheless sustained its majority position due to gerrymandered legislative districts:
The Democrats control the apportionment board for now, but they must win again in 2010 to retain that control when legislative districts are next redrawn. Running incumbents for governor and secretary of state will help a lot, but the GOP is confident that they will rebound strongly from this year's disastrous showing. "We believe that the results from this year had a lot to do with the environment we were in," said GOP spokesman John McClelland. "We have a strong farm team of Republicans who can lead us into the future and we are confident that two years from now and four years from now we will come back strong." The reporter recalls that a ballot initiative to increase competition in legislative elections by transferring the task of drawing district lines to an independent commission was rejected by voters in 2005. "Unfortunately, what happens is with whoever controls the gerrymandering, the people who lose are actually the voters because you have politicians picking who they want," commented Catherine Turcer, legislative director for Ohio Citizen Action.
The GOP's ability to keep control of the Ohio House this year was a testament to their ability to construct districts all but guaranteeing a Republican majority. The last time districts could be redrawn, Republicans controlled the state's apportionment board.
The earliest that Ohio districts could be redrawn again is 2011, after the results of the 2010 census show shifts in state population. The districts are settled by a five-member panel consisting of the governor, secretary of state, auditor, and members chosen by elected leaders of both parties.
Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Michael
David Hammer of the Associated Press posits that the Democrats' narrow edge in the U.S. Senate raises the stature of Sen. George Voinovich (R) as "a key cog for cooperation" in that chamber. "This is the type of environment that will work for a guy like George Voinovich," said Frank Maisano, an energy industry spokesman. "In a collaborative discussion where you have to work across party lines, he can play a much higher role." Hammer describes Voinovich as "a former governor and Cleveland mayor known for banging out compromise." Democrats who have reached out to Voinovich already include Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), Sen. Jeff Bingamon (D-NM), and senator-elect Sherrod Brown (D-Avon), who said "My relationship with Senator Voinovich is very good. I especially admire his work on trying to balance the budget." Even an environmental spokesperson expressed some hope about working with Voinovich. "Given the small edge Democrats have, he is in a position to play a key role," said Karen Steuer, vice president of governmental affairs for the National Environmental Trust. "We don't think he's an unreasonably partisan member."
The editors of the Youngstown Vindicator have some advice for attorney general-elect Marc Dann (D-Liberty Township) on keeping his campaign promises: "set a tone for scrupulous behavior and make it clear to everyone working for him that he will not even tolerate the appearance of impropriety," redistribute the wealth that state government tends to concentrate in Columbus by having some of the 350 lawyers in his office work out of other parts of the state, improve the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and increase support to local police departments, and include getting the legislature to address the unconstitutional school funding system as part of his pledge to hold every entity of state government to account on acting within the law, including the state constitution.