Ohio could lose as many as 2 seats in Congress

TOLEDO (AP) — Ohio is in line to be the biggest loser Tuesday when the Census Bureau releases state population totals that will determine how congressional districts are divided up.

Nongovernment analysts predict Ohio and New York will lose at least one seat and quite possibly two because of population losses to Sun Belt states.

Ohio has 18 congressional districts, but its population isn’t keeping pace with other states.

Democrats stand to lose the most because Republicans who swept the state elections in November now will control the process of redrawing the congressional districts.

Conventional wisdom says they’ll target seats now held by Democrats. “I’d be shocked if they didn’t do that,” said Democratic strategist Gerald Austin.

But it might not be that easy.

Democrats lost five out of 10 U.S. House seats they currently hold in November. The remaining five are tightly packed into an area that stretches from Toledo through Cleveland and into Youngstown. That doesn’t give Republicans a lot of room to maneuver.

“We have to be realisitic,” said Bob Bennett, former chairman of the Ohio Republican Party. “Can we really take the Democrats down to three seats in Ohio.”

It might make more sense, he said, to eliminate one Democratic and one Republican district while also shoring up Republican-held districts that are typically toss-ups.

“My fear is that we try to do too much,” Bennett said. “If we do it right, we can minimize those future losses.”

Among the Ohio Democrats in Congress who could face losing their district are Cleveland’s Dennis Kucinich and Betty Sutton, who represents suburban Cleveland and the Akron area.

Both are in areas that have lost population in the last decade.