Republicans could be close to a deal with black Democrats on a new congressional map
By Aaron Marshall, The Plain Dealer The Plain Dealer
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Republicans could be close to cutting a deal with black House Democrats for the votes needed for an alternative congressional map, says former Ohio Republican Party Chief Bob Bennett.
Bennett, who has been tapped by House Speaker William G. Batchelder to help negotiate an alternative map with black Democrats, said Monday that he thought a deal could be forthcoming.
“I think we are getting close,” Bennett said. “My job is pretty well completed.”
Bennett said Republicans are not willing to budge off a map that has 12 Republican-leaning districts and four Democratic districts, but are willing to make some concessions to Democrats.
An alternative map being discussed apparently would draw black voters together in Toledo, Dayton, Columbus and Cincinnati, keeping communities of interest together. That would have the effect of making solidly Republican districts in the Dayton and Cincinnati areas slightly more competitive for Democratic candidates. It would also bump up by a few points the black voting-age population in a solidly Democratic-leaning district in Franklin County.
Bennett said the House could vote on an alternative map as soon as Wednesday, if the votes are there.
Rep. Sandra Williams, a Cleveland Democrat who heads the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, could not be reached for comment Monday. She issued a statement Tuesday, however, dismissing Bennett’s statement that a deal could be close.