The Toledo Blade misled its readers in a May 28 editorial supporting the union-driven Voters First Ohio redistricting campaign. By emphasizing the gerrymandered structure of the current district maps while downplaying the influence of labor unions, Blade editorial staff inaccurately bolstered the Voters First position.
In the second paragraph of the piece, the Blade wrote, “Whether Republicans or Democrats control the General Assembly and hold the statewide offices that are charged with redrawing the lines, the party in power abuses its power to create more districts for itself and fewer for the other party.”
Ohio lost two U.S. House seats as a result of the 2010 Census, and the state’s current Congressional delegation includes 13 Republicans and 5 Democrats. The new Republican-drawn Congressional map contains 12 Republican-leaning districts and 4 Democrat-leaning districts. By drawing one less Republican district and one less Democrat district, the Republican Party did not “create more districts for itself and fewer for the other party” as the Blade explicitly charged.
The abuse of power theme contains a grain of truth, since both Republicans and Democrats have gerrymandered maps throughout Ohio’s history, but the Blade editorial accepted wholesale that the Voters First plan would remove politics from an inherently political process:
So it is up to Ohio voters to do what politicians won’t: remove the apparently irresistible temptation to place partisanship ahead of public interest. And the only way to do that is with a constitutional amendment that will put a nonpartisan, independent citizens’ commission in charge of creating compact, competitive political districts that reflect the demographics of the state.
Voters First Ohio, a nonpartisan coalition of government watchdog groups, has advocated such a plan for years. It held public contests to create districts that would be immensely fairer than those drawn in Columbus. It is routinely ignored by the state’s political leaders.
Now it has enlisted the labor-backed coalition that led last year’s successful campaign to repeal a Republican law that would have gutted collective bargaining for public employees. We Are Ohio is putting its 500,000-name email list and 100,000-plus Facebook friends to work, disseminating information and gathering signatures so Ohio voters can decide how they want district maps to look.
Previous Media Trackers coverage proves Voters First Ohio is not a coalition of government watchdog groups, but a union-driven liberal campaign hiding behind the League of Women Voters of Ohio. Even before union front We Are Ohio officially joined Voters First, the group’s ballot language was written by Democrat donors and promoted by the union bosses at the Ohio Education Association and AFL-CIO.
The Toledo Blade editorial board’s May 28 endorsement of the Voters First amendment rests on either ignorance of the makeup of Voters First or on the incredible assumption that labor unions are backing Voters First without expecting to gain power as a result.