Ohio Redistricting Holds Major Implications for Minor Parties and Independent Candidates

It is now established fact that Ohio will lose two congressional seats in the upcoming redistricting process undertaken by the legislature at the turn of each decade. We turn now to Washington Post’s The Fix with some analysis of the situation.

There has been a good bit of consternation among liberals that their champion — Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) — would be targeted by this process, but a more likely candidate would appear to be Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio).

Her Akron-based 13th district borders three other Democrats — Kucinich to the north, Rep. Marcy Kaptur to the west and Rep. Tim Ryan to the east. By moving more of Akron into Ryan’s 17th district, more of Lorain into Kaptur’s 9th and expanding Kucinich’s Cleveland-based 10th district slightly, Sutton’s district would basically be collapsed.

The remaining Republican areas in the middle of Sutton’s district could be given to freshman Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) in the 16th district to help shore him up.

The options for Sutton, at that point, are all bad. She could run in a primary against Kucinich or Ryan (whose district would be taking on Sutton’s geographic base), but in neither case would she be given much of a chance.

This creates an interesting situation for third party observers. Let us assume in some magical vacuum that Sutton did win a primary in either district.   We can play out scenarios A and B.

A) Kucinich loses the primary to Sutton. At Firedoglake, Green Party activist Michael Kwiatkowski lays out what he believes could happen if Kucinich faced such a serious challenge.

… progressive Democrats like Kucinich, who have been marginalized and attacked by their own party for years, should make the jump to the Greens or whatever strong third party organization exists within his or her area. Such a move would inspire many disaffected progressives to finally make the leap and join the Green Party, which now represents Americans far more than either major political party does. This is borne out by polls showing that a majority of Americans want the rich to be taxed, that twenty percent want the Pentagon budget slashed, and that almost no one except the ridiculously wealthy wants Social Security or Medicare cut or eliminated. It only makes sense that as the Democrats move ever farther to the right to placate Republicans and large corporations, independent organizations would become the new home for progressives.

For what it is worth, Kucinich endorsed a Communist over a Green in one City Council runoff in Cleveland (both were Democrats at the time).

B) Sutton wins a primary against Ryan. This is the same former staffer of ex-con and former Congressman Jim Traficant. Traficant has shown a proclivity to run as an Independent in his district several times, posting the strongest US House bid for a minor party or Independent candidate in a 3 way race in 2010 with 16.1% of the vote. He similarly polled 15% when he ran for his seat from prison in 2002.

If Sutton somehow beat Ryan, Traficant would be facing what was essentially an open seat (although Sutton would have some name recognition from pieces of her old district and longtime presence in northeast Ohio). Considering Traficant spent no money to earn 16% in 2010, the former Congressman could make a major splash with an actual campaign in such an environment.a

It is important to emphasize that both of these scenarios are extremely unlikely to occur. Instead, Kwiatkowski probably has the most realistic point to be made about this whole process for the third party world.

… it also presents Greens with an opportunity to expand our own efforts in Northeast Ohio. With legislative districts being redrawn to favor Republicans and hurt Democrats, areas that were previously closed to third parties because of strong Democrat presence may open up. This means we can run truly leftist candidates in areas where Democrats simply don’t bother or have been pushed out because of the redistricting.

3 thoughts on “Ohio Redistricting Holds Major Implications for Minor Parties and Independent Candidates

  1. Richard Winger

    After the hostile reaction of a Las Vegas newspaper toward IPR (and many other blogs) when IPR quoted several paragraphs from a story in that Las Vegas newspaper, isn’t IPR a little bit daring to be reprinting several Washington Post paragraphs instead of just linking to the Post’s story?

  2. paulie

    Actually, even Righthaven has now said they will not prosecute cases where less than (75%? I think) of a story is quoted.

    They are signing up new clients though, so the LVRJ may not be the last problem we have with them.

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