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Tag: ohio

Ohio's Supreme Court Blows Up GOP Gerrymandering Tricks

Ohio's Supreme Court struck down the state's new congressional map as an illegal partisan gerrymander designed to excessively favor Republicans on Friday and ordered legislators to draw new districts in compliance with the state constitution. The decision came just two days after the court invalidated the GOP's new legislative maps on similar grounds.

The majority, which saw Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor, a moderate Republican, join the court's three Democrats, used harsh language to castigate Republicans in its ruling. The foursome concluded that the congressional map Republicans adopted in a pair of party-line votes in November featured "undue political bias" that made it even worse than the already gerrymandered map it was replacing, "whether viewed through the lens of expert statistical analysis or by application of simple common sense."

At issue was a 2018 amendment approved by voters requiring lawmakers to pass a new congressional map in a bipartisan fashion, or, failing that, forbidding them from enacting a map that "unduly favors or disfavors a political party or its incumbents." Because Democrats stuck together and voted uniformly against the GOP’s maps—a fact the court took note of—Republicans were obligated to adhere to the provision regarding partisan favoritism.

The court ruled that they had not, saying, "When the dealer stacks the deck in advance, the house usually wins." Citing a variety of statistical measures, the majority slammed the map on account of the fact that Republicans were poised to "reliably win" 75 to 80 percent of seats despite "generally muster[ing] no more than 55 percent of the statewide popular vote." Wrote Justice Michael Donnelly, "By any rational measure, that skewed result just does not add up."

As a consequence, the court determined the entire map was invalid. It also ruled that Republicans had violated another provision directing that lawmakers "not unduly split governmental units" by chopping up three of Ohio's four largest counties for no reason other than to gain partisan advantage.

One egregious example was in Hamilton County, a blue county in the state's southwestern corner that's home to Cincinnati and voted for Joe Biden by a 57-41 margin in 2020. Hamilton on its own is close in population to the ideal district size, but instead of keeping it as close to whole as possible, Republicans divided it three ways, dumping the Cincinnati suburbs into two adjacent, safely red districts. The city itself, meanwhile, was linked to deeply rural Warren County via an isthmus just one mile wide—a detail the court highlighted with a map.

Lawmakers now have 30 days in which to pass a new map that, as the court stressed, "comports with the directives of this opinion"—with emphasis in the original. If they fail to do so, then the state's redistricting commission, on which Republicans have a 5-2 majority, would have another 30 days to complete the task. While the court did not explicitly say it would review any plans to ensure they're compliant (as it did in its ruling on the legislative maps), there's little doubt the majority will carefully scrutinize the final product—and potentially produce their own, should they find it lacking.

Article reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Billionaire Linked To White Nationalists Backing GOP Senate Hopeful In Ohio

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance announced on Thursday that he would be running for the Republican nomination for Ohio's open U.S. Senate seat in 2022.

The seat is currently held by GOP Sen. Rob Portman, who is retiring. Vance is the seventh Republican to officially file for the election. Also currently running is serial failed Senate candidate Josh Mandel.

The seat is currently rated as "lean Republican" by the Cook Political Report, while Inside Elections says it is "solid" for the party.

In March, in advance of Vance's official campaign declaration, former Paypal executive and billionaire Peter Thiel donated $10 million to Protect Ohio Values, a super PAC supporting Vance's candidacy. On Wednesday, just before Vance's announcement, the PAC released a digital ad in support of his campaign, which they promoted in an "exclusive" for Fox News.

Over the last few years, Thiel has been a prominent voice within the Republican Party. He was one of the featured speakers at the Republican National Convention in 2016, expressing support for former President Donald Trump's campaign, and donated to him through several super PACs.

According to a 2020 Buzzfeed report, as part of his effort to back Trump, Thiel reportedly hosted a dinner with Kevin DeAnna, a prominent white nationalist who founded the far-right group Youth For Western Civilization, in July 2016.

In an email sent on July 16, 2016, Thiel reportedly told DeAnna, "Really enjoyed meeting you last night." The email also includes the suggestion that Thiel was interested in further meetings with the white supremacist. According to Buzzfeed, DeAnna responded to Thiel, writing, "It was a real honor meeting you and thanks for hosting all of us."

DeAnna, the outlet noted, has written in favor of creating a white "ethno-state" which he said is "the great dream of the White Republic" in a 2013 column.

DeAnna is also a proponent of the racist "great replacement" conspiracy theory, which claims that immigration to America from nonwhites is a plot to replace white people. Writing about the conspiracy on the white supremacist site VDARE in July 2019, DeAnna claimed, "Westerners must wake to this demographic tidal wave lest their culture, people and civilization be extinguished."

More recently, elements of the conspiracy have been voiced by Republicans in Congress.

Thiel has not commented publicly on his reported interactions with white nationalist figures.

In addition to Thiel, the far-right Mercer family has also reportedly donated to the pro-Vance super PAC.

Bryan Lanza, a spokesman for the PAC, told the Cincinnati Enquirer that Bob and Rebekah Mercer made a "significant contribution" to Protect Ohio Values.

The Mercers, who made their money from hedge funds, were also major donors to Trump's 2016 campaign. They helped to finance the right-wing outlet Breitbart, which has frequently trafficked in racism, sexism, and political smears.

Parler, the right-wing social network, was also financed by the Mercers, and Rebekah Mercer co-founded the company. The network was removed from the Apple app store in January after it became clear that some users had utilized it to organize the January 6 attack on the Capitol. It has since been restored.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Polls Show Trump Struggling In Eight Swing States

Polls released this week showed Donald Trump trailing behind former Vice President Joe Biden in all eight swing states — some of which he won by a large margin in the presidential election four years ago.

In Iowa, a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday showed Biden leading Trump among likely voters 50 percent to 47 percent, compared with last month's poll in which Trump led by 3 percent. Among registered voters, Trump has a slight advantage with 48 percent to Biden's 47 percent.

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Ohio Official Sharply Limited Secure Ballot Boxes After Consulting ‘Voter Fraud Expert'

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

On July 15, a civil rights group formed by Black union workers called on the Ohio secretary of state to make voting amid the pandemic easier and safer. It advocated placing multiple secure ballot drop boxes in counties across the state.

When a deputy to Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose received the A. Philip Randolph Institute's press release, he responded quickly — but not to the group. Instead, according to records obtained by ProPublica, the deputy contacted the Heritage Foundation's Hans von Spakovsky, a leading advocate for the discredited argument that American elections are tainted by widespread voting fraud.

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In Some Red States, Partisan Officials Blocking Mail Ballots

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Across America, election officials responsible for the details of running elections have a clear idea of what is needed to shift to mostly mail-in voting in upcoming spring, summer and fall elections to protect voters from the coronavirus. But pockets of conservatives are resisting their advice.

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Ohio Man Protested Virus As ‘Political Ploy’ — Until It Killed Him

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

In Ohio, conservative Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has been lambasted by far-right groups for issuing a stay-at-home order in his state and promoting social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. One of DeWine's critics was 60-year-old John W. McDaniel, who dismissed COVID-19 as a "political ploy" and angrily railed against the Ohio governor.

But sadly, McDaniel has since died from the very thing he didn't take seriously.

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New Voting Rights Battles Erupting In Key Swing States

This article was produced by Voting Booth, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

When the 2020 election season resumes in Ohio on April 28 and continues in nearly half of the states through July, Americans will see if new voting regimens instituted in response to the pandemic will help voters or preview state-by-state partisan battles over voter turnout.

Already there are troubling signs that the past decade's voter suppression battles will continue and accelerate in battleground states. Wisconsin's April 7 primary, the month's only presidential contest that was not postponed by the pandemic, is exhibit A. However, as 24 states and territories will hold primaries and caucuses in coming weeks, and other elections this summer, Republicans in some states are already tilting the rules and means of voting to favor their base in the fall.

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Dayton Mayor On 24-Hour Security After Threats From Trump Backers

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Dayton, Ohio Mayor Nan Whaley has been assigned a security detail after President Donald Trump turned his ire on the grieving local leader in the wake of a massacre in her city earlier this month that killed nine.

“Get the hell out of this country you disrespectful trash,” reads one message Whaley received, according to the Dayton Daily News. “Treason is death.”

Others “[contained] extremely abusive language and expletive-laced insults,” the paper reported.

Trump and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) visited Dayton on August 7, after a gunman opened fire at the popular downtown Oregon Historic District early Saturday morning on August 4. During a press conference following the president’s visit, Brown and Whaley said they had urged Trump to push gun legislation, including background checks, in the wake of the shooting.

Inexplicably, Trump later took to Twitter to claim the pair “misrepresented” his reception at the hospital, despite Brown and Whaley both acknowledging that victims and first responders were grateful for the president’s visit. In an interview with CNN, Whaley said she was “at a loss” for why Trump was angered by their statements.

“I respected the president and the office of the president” she later told the Dayton Daily News. “But I strongly want him to do something and the people of Dayton want him to do something, and so it’s my job to say that.”

As the Dayton Daily News reports, the decision to give Whaley around-the-clock security detail came from city law director Barbara Doseck and city commission office director Ariel Walker. It has since been “scaled back,” according to the report, but a police spokesman declined to “reveal what type of security has been or will be provided.”

As for Whaley, she said the detail is “the most extensive security I’ve ever had.”

“They are here for my safety, and if they think it’s important, then I think it’s important,” she told the newspaper.