Politico today looks at the question of redistricting and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio. Kucinich, the unabashedly liberal former mayor of Cleveland, has been sounding the alarm bells over his district being eliminated for some time now, an effort to raise money from liberals.
But it would not be easy for the GOP legislators who redistrict Ohio to eliminate Kucinich's district (at right, in pink) altogether in a way that gives them an advantage. The easiest district to eliminate is the snake-like district of Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Ohio (in purple), which has two separate Democratic population centers and some solidly Republican territory in between. Even if Kucinich inherits some of her territory, she lives far enough away that it would take a map like this one to throw them together:
(If you haven't seen this tool yet, I highly recommend trying out Dave's Redistricting App.)
The rationale behind the above map is that the gray district of Rep. Marcia Fudge, D, might not be able to maintain its African-American majority if it expands within the Cleveland area. The reasons are that all districts have to gain population (Ohio is losing two districts) and Cleveland has actually lost about 70,000 residents since 2000. So instead of expanding her onto Kucinich's turf, this map gives her the black areas of Akron to the south. For the Republicans, this plan has the virtue of strengthening freshman Rep. Jim Renacci, R (in green), considerably.
On the other hand, if the detailed Census numbers show next month that there are more black residents in Cleveland than expected, Fudge could take in enough of Kucinich's urban precincts to make the pink district a much tougher place for him to win. In that scenario, he inherits some of the most Republican parts of Sutton's district, while Reps. Marcy Kaptur, D, and Tim Ryan, D, can simply gobble up the Democratic parts. Such a map could look something like this:
Kucinich, who only got 53 percent in November, would lose many of his best precincts. They would be replaced with much less friendly territory in suburban and rural Cuyahoga, Lorain and Medina Counties. It's hard to say for sure, but this might even be a fair-fight seat.
A map like this one stretches the GOP to its limits, but there are advantages to keeping seats somewhat competitive, even at the risk of losing a few in a bad year. In states like California, where practically none of the districts are competitive, the state party tends to lose its campaign muscles over time, with deleterious effects on statewide races as well.
Anyway, these are just a few completely hypothetical ideas. They may be unrealistic because they presuppose that Republicans eliminate the seat of Rep. Jim Jordan, R, who is considering a bid for Senate against Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. If Jordan does not run -- and he's been at least hinting that he won't -- his district is so solidly Republican that its elimination would allow every other GOP congressman in the state to be shored up, making the redistricting task easier for Republicans in the Cleveland/Akron area.