Ohio Democrat: DCCC let us down in state redistricting fight

Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) charged the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) with costing Democrats multiple House seats and millions of dollars by failing to intervene in a fight against a Republican-drawn congressional map.

"I am completely shocked that the DCCC let Ohio down, Ohio Democrats down," Kaptur told The Hill. "Why the DCCC just allowed such an unrepresentative map to come forward makes me question who are they listening to. They're certainly not listening to the people of Ohio."

ADVERTISEMENT
Republicans, who control the Legislature and governor's mansion in Ohio, drew a map earlier in 2011 that expanded their already substantial advantage in a swing state that President Obama won in 2008. Ohio lost two House seats in the once-per-decade redistricting process, and the new map creates 12 Republican-leaning districts and four Democratic-leaning districts.

"I simply don't understand why they were satisfied, in a state that votes 50-50, with a ratio of four out of 16 seats for Democrats," Kaptur said.

Kaptur will feel the effects of the Republican map first-hand; Ohio lawmakers drew Kaptur and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio) into the same district, pitting her directly against her longtime Democratic colleague.

The DCCC has vowed to stay neutral in Democratic primaries. But publicly challenging the DCCC comes with political risks for Kaptur, especially if an expensive, hard-fought primary against Kucinich drains her campaign of resources. Two Republicans are competing in the GOP primary for the same seat.

DCCC spokeswoman Jennifer Crider said the committee was partnering on redistricting efforts with its allies across the county — including Ohio.

"We are aggressively working to protect every Democratic seat possible and increase our opportunities where we can," Crider said.

Encouraged by their success in November in using a referendum to repeal an anti-union law, Ohio Democrats hoped they could get voters to throw out the GOP-drawn map. But after failing to collect the requisite signatures, Democrats called it quits.

Kaptur argued that by being frugal in the short term, the DCCC cost itself millions in the long term. It would have cost Democrats about $300,000, she estimated, to fund a viable referendum to stymie the GOP map, which also dismantled Rep. Betty Sutton's (D-Ohio) district, forcing her to run against Republican Rep. Jim Renacci (Ohio). Kaptur said the DCCC sent a fundraising letter alerting supporters that they would need to raise $3 million to help keep Sutton in Congress.

The head of the Ohio Democratic Party, Chris Redfern, has already made public his disappointment with the DCCC, telling Roll Call that he asked for help from the Democratic redistricting trust, but the DCCC turned him away.

"My first thought was, 'Well, maybe Obama wrote off Ohio,' " Kaptur said. "Why would they do that to Ohio?"