GOP In 2012: Running On Redistricting, Not On Their Record

January 24, 2012 12:40 pm ET — Brian Powell

Rep. John Boehner

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) gave an illuminating interview to Politico's Alex Isenstadt on Monday evening in which he confidently declared that not only will the GOP maintain a majority in the House of Representatives after the 2012 election, but the Republican Party will also continue to control the House through the year 2020. His assurance on this point was not derived from his pride or confidence in a GOP record of legislative success that has benefitted the majority of the American electorate (indeed, Republican control of the House has achieved quite the opposite). Instead, Boehner tethers the future success of the GOP to the simple fact that he and his party have so manipulated the congressional redistricting process that "it will be nearly impossible" for Democrats to win again.

Boehner dismissed Democratic claims that House control is up for grabs and argued that the once-in-a-decade redistricting process has made the GOP's hold on the majority ironclad.

Redistricting "gives us a very strong foundation for the decade," Boehner said.

"I think it will be nearly impossible" for Democrats to win back the House in November, Boehner said. [...]

With his party controlling much of the redistricting process this go-round, Boehner pointed to his home state of Ohio as an example of Republican success in using line-drawing to bolster potentially vulnerable members by shoring up their districts. Republicans hold 13 of Ohio's 18 seats, and Democrats have few opportunities to make significant inroads there, Boehner argued.

Boehner's use of Ohio as the prime example of Republican entrenchment is revealing. The suspicious redistricting process in the state has been highly criticized, with one expert in Ohio noting that "we have politicians choosing their voters instead of the other way around." Indeed, the Columbus Dispatch reported last month that Boehner operatives and the National Republican Congressional Committee "were central in drawing the state's disputed congressional map." From the Dispatch, citing a report by the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting (OCAR):

Emails between the people crafting the map and [Tom] Whatman, executive director of Team Boehner, show Whatman weighing in on designs and making requests. Team Boehner is an organization created early this year to help congressional Republicans facing election contests in 2012 maintain their majority in the U.S. House.

In one instance, an email chain between Whatman, one of the mapmakers and the redistricting coordinator for the National Republican Congressional Committee shows Whatman making a request a day before the map was introduced to the Ohio House.

The report said this resulted in a peninsula added onto the district that contained zero population but the headquarters of a company whose executives and board members have contributed more than $120,000 to Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci in the last two years. [...]

The coalition said that the maps were drawn in secret despite lawmakers' promises of an open, transparent process.

OCAR also says Republicans have fashioned districts "that will provide for largely predetermined elections where we will know which party will win before we even know who the candidates are."

It's no wonder that Boehner and others in the GOP leadership aren't concerned with forging effective policies or with passing viable legislation, or worried about being labeled 'obstructionists.' They've already manipulated the system so that the votes of the Republican base are the only votes that matter.


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