Ohio Redistricting: The Northern Districts

Today’s post will look at the northern districts located around Cleveland, Toledo and Akron. These include the 9th, 10th, 11th, 13th and 14th. These five districts are held by Democrats except for the 14th. The 10th and 11th district are the two districts in the state with the smallest populations. Below is a map showing those districts. This post is the fourth in a series. Earlier posts provided an introduction to Ohio’s 2011 redistricting and in-depth looks at congressional districts and redistricting in Ohio’s western and central regions.

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Ohio's 9th District

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur

Ohio’s 9th congressional district is centered on Toledo, on the northern edge of the state. It encompasses all of Ottawa and Erie counties and parts of Lucas and Lorain. The auto industry has historically been very important to the district’s economy and the recent recession hit the area very hard. The 9th has been Democratic for most of its recent history, giving Obama 62% of its vote in 2008.

It currently has a Cook Partisan Voting Index of D+10. The 9th’s incumbent is Democrat Marcy Kaptur, the longest serving woman currently in the House. She was first elected in 1982.

Kaptur has currently raised just over $450,000, well below that of Republican challenger Rich Iott, who has raised over $1.8 million. However, Kaptur has over $900,000 cash on hand from previous cycles compared to Iott’s $180,000 cash on hand; much of Iott’s money is self-funded.  Iott was a “Contender” (the second tier) in the NRCC’s Young Guns Program.  He recently saw some controversy after photos came to light of him dressed as a Nazi for a historical reenactment, and he was dropped from the NRCC’s Young Guns Program.  It remains to be seen how strongly this will affect the race. Kaptur will probably have a closer election than usual but is likely to hold the 9th district.

If Republicans win the hotly contested 15th district in November, the 9th district, with its population of 642,538, may be the most populous Democrat-held district in Ohio going into redistricting. If Kaptur can hold on to her seat, she will likely survive redistricting given her seniority and the district’s sizeable population. Depending on which seats are removed from the map, the 9th will gain extra voters from either the more conservative south or the more liberal east. If her election this November is close, each party will be eager to use redistricting to strengthen their own chances in this district. If Kaptur wins handily, Republicans may write off the 9th district and simply pack as many Democratic voters into it as they can to strengthen Republican chances in the surrounding districts.

Ohio's 10th District

The 10th congressional district includes most of western Cleveland as well as several Cuyahoga County suburbs to the

Congressman Dennis Kucinich

south and west of the city. The 10th has had huge population losses since 2000. Having lost over 32,000 residents (almost a twentieth of its population) since 2000, it is one of only two districts in the state that has fallen below 600,000 people. The district is fairly liberal, with a Cook Partisan Voting Index of D+8. In 2008, the 10th voted for Obama by a 59-39 margin over McCain. Democrat Dennis Kucinich, a recent presidential candidate, is the incumbent in the 10th.

Kucinich heads into the general election having raised $660,000 in the current campaign cycle, far more than Republican challenger Peter Corrigan’s $200,000. Kucinich seems likely to hold onto his seat in 2010.

Redistricting in 2012 could be a far different story, however. As a Democratic district will almost certainly need to be eliminated, and the under-populated Cleveland area is a sure target. While the 10th is only the second least populated district, the least populated is the Voting Rights Act-protected 11th. While Kucinich’s seniority and national exposure could save him, the 10th is in significant danger of being drawn out of the map in 2011, with the northern part being added to the 11th and the southern part combined with a portion of the 13th. To return to the House after 2012, Representative Kucinich may have to win a primary against Representative Sutton.

Ohio's 11th District
Congresswoman Marcia Fudge

Ohio’s 11th district includes most of the Eastern side of Cleveland and the eastern suburbs. It has lost more residents than any other district in the state by a large margin. Between 2000 and 2008, the district is estimated to have lost over 90,000 residents, or 14.5% of its 2000 population. A Voting Rights Act district, the 11th is 58.4% African American, and it is the most Democratic district in the state. Its Cook Partisan Voting Index is D+32 and it voted for Obama by an 85-14 margin in 2008. The incumbent is first-term Democrat Marcia Fudge.

Representative Fudge has raised over $520,000, is facing only token opposition from Republican Thomas Pekarek in 2010, and looks certain to win a second term.

Given its severe underpopulation, the 11th district is in danger of being eliminated, but the Voting Rights Act will likely protect it. Assuming the elimination of the neighboring 10th, a large number of liberal voters will be available and Republicans may jump on the 11th as a place to put said voters without weakening themselves in a district where they are competitive. While the 11th will certainly be expanded geographically under this plan, it will probably look demographically similar to the way it does today.

Ohio's 13th District

Congresswoman Betty Sutton

Ohio’s 13th congressional district includes many of the suburbs in Cleveland and also the western part of Akron. It is one of the more oddly shaped districts in the state, particularly in the part of the district located in Summit County. The 13th also includes parts of Lorain, Cuyahoga and Medina Counties. The district leans Democratic, with a Cook Partisan Voting Index of D+5. In 2008, it voted for Obama by a fifteen point margin over McCain. The incumbent in the 13th is Democrat Betty Sutton, first elected in 2006. She was re-elected easily in 2008.

Republican Tom Ganley beat out five others in the primary to challenge Sutton this November. He raised over $2.1 million dollars, much of it left over from his abandoned campaign for Senate. Representative Sutton, in contrast, has raised over $1.5 million. The DCCC has attacked Ganley for complaints about his used car dealerships and there has been significant outside spending in the district, with the Democratic women’s group Emily’s List spending over $500,000 in ads to defeat Ganley.  Ganley has been accused of sexual harassment and recently canceled all of his broadcast televisions ads (his campaign says he is simply switching to cable instead).  Sutton is favored to win re-election, but Republicans are hopeful about their chances for an upset.

The 13th has a population of 639,558, about 11.3% below the ideal population level for Ohio districts. It is likely that if the 10th district is split, much of its voting population will be put into the 13th. Kucinich might conceivably even be placed into the 13th, creating a tight race for Sutton in 2012 if he chooses to run against her.

Ohio's 14th District

The 14th congressional district is in the northeast corner of the state and includes the Cleveland-Akron area. It

Congressman Steve LaTourette

encompasses all of Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula counties and parts of Cuyahoga, Summit, Portage, and Trumbull. It has the largest Lake Erie shoreline of any district in Ohio. The 14th leans to the right, with a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+3. McCain won the district in 2008 by a margin of less than 800 votes. The district’s incumbent is Republican Steven LaTourette, who has been in office since 1994. LaTourette has raised over $1.1 million in the current election cycle; his Democratic challenger Bill O’Neill has raised over $110,000. LaTourette looks certain to win the 14th seat again in 2010.

The 14th has a population of  655,432, making it about 9.2% below the ideal population level. With LaTourette’s seniority and the 14th’s current status as the only Republican held district in its area, the seat looks safe in redistricting. It is likely to be expanded towards the 17th and it may pick up some Republican areas from the 13th district, solidifying its place as a conservative stronghold in the northeast.

On the whole, the Cleveland-Akron-Toledo area will see considerable change after redistricting occurs. It is the most likely area in the state to lose a seat due to its underpopulation.

Tomorrow’s post will discuss the final section of districts in Ohio: the 6th, 16th, 17th, and 18th.

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