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New State Law Pushes 2012 Primaries To May

The double primary deal was created by Republicans to handle a timeline situation. Democrats want to put the GOP-drawn map of Ohio’s 16 new Congressional districts before voters next year, so as of right now there’s no map to show the boundaries of those districts because Democrats are still gathering signatures for the ballot. Moving the Congressional and presidential primary to June while leaving all other primaries, including the state legislative and US Senate primary in March solves the problem of an upcoming filing deadline in December – when it’s possible Ohio still won’t have a Congressional district map. But no one’s pleased – not Democratic state representative Connie Pillich of Cincinnati…
“It’s going to make us the laughingstock of the country.”

And not Republican House Speaker Bill Batchelder of Medina, who talked about what he’d like to see done to the second primary.
“Heaved, I think that would be a polite way to handle it.”

The extra primary is expected to cost the state 15 million dollars, and Democrats say it will confuse voters. They wanted both primaries moved to June, but Republicans such as Jay Hottinger of Newark say the double primary is needed because Democrats have created a real problem.
“We still don’t have a map, and I think that’s another reason why we want to keep the primaries separate so that it doesn’t throw into confusion when we’d be able to vote for county commissioners and county auditors and state reps and state senators and that sort of thing.”

And Speaker Batchelder says a bigger problem could be that talks between Republican and Democratic leaders don’t appear to be heading toward a compromise.
“It would be fair to say that, that’s right.”

And some people don’t expect a resolution. Veteran Democratic Youngstown lawmaker Rep. Bob Hagan says what’s going on it – using his words – a “shell game”.
“I’ve never seen it as ugly as it is today. I’ve never seen the games that have been played. I’ve never seen the Republicans try to move us away from what the real issues are facing this state.”

And fellow Democratic Rep. Mike Foley of Cleveland agrees.
”It just seems crazy that we’re in this situation. We understood that they were going to get the majority of the lines – they have the pen, we understood that. But the way they did it was just so screwed up.”

But while Batchelder dislikes the Democrats’ proposed map so much he says Republicans would be better off if a panel of federal judges drew the map, he says he’s still holding out hope that the double primary may not have to happen.

(Question: “If you do get some sort of agreement on new Congressional maps, would you expect to repeal the second June primary?”)
“The thought occurs.”

And while each party is blaming the other for the situation, Batchelder was also critical of the Republican dominated Senate for not taking action on the primary bill, which Senators got in mid-September. Republican Senators had concerns over the bill, which at that point would have moved the Congressional and presidential primary to the date reserved for primaries and special elections in May, not a less standard primary date in June.

Rick Jackson is a senior host and producer at Ideastream Public Media. He hosts the "Sound of Ideas" on WKSU and "NewsDepth" on WVIZ.