COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Frustrated Democrats in Ohio took the unusual step Thursday of calling their own political mapmaking hearing of sorts, inviting public testimonials and streaming the proceeding on Facebook.
State Sen. Vernon Sykes and Ohio House Democratic Leader Allison Russo are both members of the bipartisan Ohio Redistricting Commission, a seven-member panel controlled by Republicans. The commission has not yet reconvened despite facing a May 6 deadline set by the Ohio Supreme Court for fixing its fourth set of invalidated Statehouse maps — though it has set a meeting for May 4, the day after the primary election.
Sykes and Russo said their decision to schedule the forum followed their repeated attempts to get the other commissioners to the table, or to convene the panel themselves. Neither strategy worked, they said.
“The Commission is under a state court order to adopt new, constitutional state legislative maps, and Democrats are ready to get to work,” they said in a joint release.
The GOP’s casual approach to the May 6 deadline follows a key decision last week by a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
The judges indicated in a separate federal lawsuit that they plan to impose the commission’s third set of Ohio House and Ohio Senate district maps on May 28 if no alternative is passed by then — and order it used in an Aug. 2 primary.
The state Supreme Court has the third set of maps — like the first, second and fourth — an unconstitutional gerrymander unduly favoring Republicans.
“Too bad so sad,” influential Republican state Rep. Bill Seitz, of Cincinnati, said in a Twitter spat with former Ohio Democratic Chair David Pepper over the ruling. “We win again.”