Ohio redistricting battle impacts Senate race calculus

In a recent interview with The Hill, Jordan also said he's "leaning against" a Senate bid in 2012, but he isn't completely ruling it out, either.

Jordan is the chairman of the Republican Study Committee (RSC) and said that will be his focus for the near future. He's also chairman of an Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee.

"I think there's something to be said for not being the one to offer up your seat first," said Republican strategist Rex Elsass, who doesn't think anyone can be counted out of the Senate race just yet, regardless of their public stance.

But jumping into the Senate race could mean map-drawers will start thinking about carving up the candidate’s congressional district.

"Given redistricting, I don't think anyone wants to look overly ambitious," Elsass said.

There are a number of redistricting scenarios being batted around the state, but the early consensus appears to be that, thanks to Republican House gains in 2010, it will be difficult for the party to not lose at least one of the 13 seats.

"I do think it will be very hard to get down to three Democratic seats in the state," admitted LaTourette. "My sense is that it's going to be one of each, but who knows what seats they'll be."

The most obvious scenario is that one of those seats comes from Northeastern Ohio -- the state's Democratic bastion, which accounts for most of the population loss over the past decade. Along with a seat from the North, LaTourette said his guess is that another will have to come from Southwestern Ohio.

The early betting is that Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) will be the first target with map makers likely trying to draw his district into that of Reps. Betty Sutton (D) and Marcia Fudge (D). That would force Kucinich into a primary against an incumbent next year if he wants to remain in Congress.

As for Republicans -- if everyone in the delegation stays put -- freshmen members, particularly Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), may be on the chopping block if the party is unable to avoid the loss of a GOP-held seat.

LaTourette said concern over redistricting isn't driving his decision on the Senate race, but admitted, "It can certainly enter into it."

"People have talked to me about the Senate race and I just remind them that it's very tough to get rid of my seat," he said. "I'm not sure if it's holding anyone back, though; it's just too early."