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Between the Lines: Ohio Filing Deadline Arrives, But Is This Really It?

Ohio’s candidate filing deadline came and passed Wednesday — or did it?

House candidates filed to run in their respective districts, but it’s unclear whether there will be a second deadline or whether lawmakers plan to pass another Congressional map.

Ohio’s redistricting remains in limbo several weeks after lawmakers took their first stab at passing a map this fall. Earlier this year, lawmakers also passed a bill that scheduled two separate primaries: March for Senate and other local races, and June for House and presidential contests.

“If it’s confusing for us, it’s really confusing for the voters, trying to figure out what all this is about,” said state Rep. Ted Celeste (D), a candidate in the redrawn 3rd district.

Like many candidates, Celeste circulated a set of petitions for both primary dates, and he might have to initiate a third set of petitions if lawmakers settle on a third, mutual primary date for all contests.

Ohio Republicans continue to leave the door open to map alterations. Although none of the changes would be substantial, such a move would add more confusion to the drawn-out redistricting process.

Florida: Two Sets of GOP-Drawn Maps Help Republicans

The release of seven draft Congressional maps by the state House on Tuesday left political observers with more questions than answers.

But there were still some salient takeaways from the new maps compared with the draft lines the state Senate released: Certain GOP Members will be more vulnerable, but the Republican Party is likely to maintain a strong advantage in the delegation in 2012. Republicans control the Legislature and the governorship.

Just about any way freshman Rep. Allen West’s (R) 22nd district is drawn makes his battle for re-election a bit tougher. He’s likely to face either former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel (D) or businessman Patrick Murphy (D) in the election if all three decide to stay in the 22nd.

To West’s north, second-term Rep. Tom Rooney (R) appears to face a more Democratic district under both map proposals. Under the draft Senate map, his district was shifted from one that Sen. John McCain (R) would have won in 2008 to a district that would have voted for Barack Obama.

Also appearing to face tougher lines on both maps is freshman Rep. Steve Southerland (R) in the Panhandle.

Depending on where he chooses to run, Rep. David Rivera (R) is also likely to face a less Republican electorate based on both chambers’ maps.

A 2010 state constitutional amendment requires mapmakers to avoid drawing districts with the intent to favor or disfavor a party or incumbent. That requirement is almost certain to be the core of Democratic lawsuits challenging any new map, whatever it may look like in its final iteration.

Pennsylvania: Another Deadline Comes and Goes

Republicans initially planned to release a new map this week, even scheduling a committee meeting on the bill Wednesday morning. But state lawmakers and House Members continue to grapple with details of some of the districts and have pushed off its release until most likely after the weekend. A legislative source said the state House, Senate and governor’s office “hope to get something up really soon.”

Pennsylvania will lose one House seat because of reapportionment. Republicans have strongly suggested Democratic Reps. Jason Altmire and Mark Critz will be moved into the same district to make up for the loss.

But lawmakers are running out of time to pass a map in December. The state Senate is scheduled to depart next week, and the state House will stay in session until Dec. 20. Lawmakers must consider the map for at least five or six days before voting.

There’s no legal deadline to finish the map, but candidates can begin to circulate petitions Jan. 24 to run for office.

Mississippi: Court’s Map Could Land Next Week

A federal court in Jackson will move toward drawing a new Congressional map Monday, the deadline for comment from outside parties on two pending cases. A map, likely to make minor tweaks to adjust for population growth, is expected as early as Monday.

The split-control Legislature was unable to pass a new Congressional map, so Gov. Haley Barbour (R) and the state GOP asked the court to modify districts the court drew in 2002.

In a separate case, seven black voters asked the court to draw a new map and submitted their preferred version.

The district of Rep. Bennie Thompson, the state’s sole Democrat and only black Congressman, must increase by about 10 percent while the other three districts must shed voters.

Send news items on redistricting to Between the Lines here.

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