Map Would Move More Republicans To Brown

By JOHN McCARTHY, Associated Press Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Democratic U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown would have to face more Republican voters under a new congressional redistricting map drawn by GOP leaders.

A draft of the map, obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, showed that Brown's district would include eastern Lorain County, the Republican-rich suburbs of Cleveland in southern Cuyahoga County and eastern Summit County, including much of Akron.

Republican members of Congress were shown drafts of their districts Tuesday night, but were told by state GOP leaders that the districts might be changed slightly, said U.S. Rep. Dave Hobson, a Republican from Springfield.

The GOP-controlled Ohio House and Senate, as well as Republican Gov. Bob Taft, must sign off on the plan. Hearings on the plan were to begin in the House State Government Committee on Wednesday.

The map-drawers worked late Tuesday to keep Summit County from being represented by four members of Congress. Senate Minority Leader Leigh Herington, whose district includes part of Summit County, said having that many representatives in one county was unacceptable.

The map protects most incumbents. One 11th-hour change pushed Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur's Toledo-area district to the east to include an area along Lake Erie to the Erie-Lorain county line, but it will still include Toledo.

Democratic Rep. James Traficant's Youngstown-area district would be split up among Republican Reps. Steven LaTourette and Robert Ney and Democratic Rep. Tom Sawyer. Ted Strickland, whose southern Ohio district would wind along the Ohio River, would also add southern Mahoning County, including Traficant's hometown of Poland.

Rep. Tony Hall's Dayton-area district would become more Republican by pushing toward the southwest to include northern Warren County, and Highland and Clinton counties, all formerly in Strickland's district.

Republican Rep. Paul Gillmor would pick up GOP-leaning Fulton County in northwest Ohio.

Democrats were debating whether to provide the votes that majority Republicans need to pass the bill as an emergency and avoid moving the congressional primary past the May 7 primary for state and local offices. Democratic leaders said a final decision would be made Wednesday after they had seen the final version of the map.

The GOP holds a 59-40 majority in the House and a 21-12 edge in the Senate. However, a two-thirds majority is needed in each chamber -- 66 votes in the House and 22 in the Senate -- to enact an emergency clause.

Herington, a Ravenna Democrat, said the plan that includes Brown, Sawyer and LaTourette all representing parts of Summit County might give Democrats the best deal.

"If they give us what we think is the best map that can be put together, we'll give them our vote. We'll hold our nose and we'll do it and we'll have a May 7 primary," Herington said.

Republicans in Congress and the Legislature lobbied Senate President Richard Finan and House Speaker Larry Householder for more GOP territory. However, the leaders said it was impossible to satisfy each member.

"I think we have done the best we can do for Republican congresspersons in this state. This is a very competitive state, politically, between Republicans and Democrats," said Finan, a Cincinnati Republican.

Householder said many Republicans didn't understand the difficulty beating incumbents of either party in congressional elections.

"There's always pipe dreams out there, but I think that's what they are. We've got some pretty good members of Congress across the board in Ohio," said Householder, a Glenford Republican.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)