Ohio Republicans shore up huge advantage with redistricting map

Ohio Republicans' draft redistricting map will cause a major reshuffling of the state's congressional lines and hurt incumbents of both parties, including Ohio Democratic Reps. Dennis Kucinich and Betty Sutton and Republicans Steve Austria and Michael Turner.

But the map as a whole will play to Republicans' advantage, according to GOP sources familiar with the process.

"Republicans have been ale to strengthen a lot of their seats," said one GOP source familiar with the map. "I'm actually calling it a [Democrat] minus two map: A lot of the seats that were either weakly Democrat or toss-up have been upgraded a notch to toss-up or weak Republican."

Republicans will release the map later on Tuesday or Wednesday. The Buckeye State lost two congressional seats due to slow population growth, and while Republicans have full control over the state's redistricting process because they did so well there in 2010, they had to ax at least one Republican.

The map, which was drawn by close allies of Speaker John Boehner with plenty of input from the Ohio Republican, combines all of Columbus into one new Democratic district and draws three more safely Democratic districts in the north of the state around Cleveland and Akron. The new map makes many Republican incumbents in swing districts safer, and would likely give the GOP control of 12 of the swing state's 16 House seats; they currently hold 13 of the state's 18 seats.

The new lines would force Kucinich to run in an uphill primary against either African-American Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) in a majority-black district, or against longtime incumbent Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio). But Kucinich has been considering another option: moving to Washington state, which is gaining a seat. Washington will release its draft redistricting maps later on Tuesday.

Sutton is also at a disadvantage: Much of her Akron-based district has been split, and heavily African-American parts have been removed. She will likely have to run against Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) in a Republican-leaning district, or challenge Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) in a district that includes most of Ryan's current territory.

Austria and Turner will likely face off in a primary, as their districts have been combined.

Many Republicans would benefit from the new map, including Rep. Steve Chabot, whose Cincinnati-based swing district becomes more Republican. Freshman GOP Reps. Bill Johnson, Bob Gibbs and Steve Stivers will also have friendlier territory to run in.

But one Republican with knowledge of the map said that while the lines will aid his party, there's no guaranteeing success through redistricting alone.

"In a lot of seats in Ohio there could be opportunities for Democrats," he said. "Redistricting builds the seats, but it doesn’t win them."

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