Between President Joe Biden’s weak approval ratings, gerrymandering and voter suppression, many pundits have been predicting that Republicans will retake the U.S. House of Representatives in November. But that remains to be seen, and Republican gerrymandering was dealt a blow in the Midwest this week when the Ohio Supreme Court — including Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor — struck down the congressional map that Ohio Republicans had in mind for the Buckeye State.
On top of that, Rep. John Katko of New York State has announced that he won’t be seeking reelection — which is more bad news for the GOP. Katko is one of the Republicans who is moderate enough to fare well among centrist Democrats and swing voters in his state. Neither of these problems is necessarily decisive for control of the House, but if 2022 ends up being close, a few seats on the margin could make all the difference.
The Ohio Supreme Court ruled, 4-3, that the map violated the state’s constitution by drawing the districts to unfairly favor one party over another. Columbus Dispatch reporters Jessie Balmert and Laura A. Bischoff note that the map “could have given Republicans as much as a 12-3 advantage in a state that voted for President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump twice.”
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Michael Donnelly, who was part of the majority opinion, argued, “When the dealer stacks the deck in advance, the house usually wins.”
Now, lawmakers in the Ohio State Legislature, according to Balmert and Bischoff, will have 30 days to “craft a new map.”
The Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman, in response to the ruling, tweeted:
Meanwhile, in New York State, Katko’s decision not to seek another term takes away a GOP candidate who isn’t a polarizing figure among centrist Democrats and swing voters. Katko, who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump following the January 6, 2021 insurrection, is conservative but not extreme.
Not surprisingly, Trump sees Katko’s decision as good news, as he considers the congressman a RINO: Republican in Name Only.
But outside of the MAGA bubble, political analysts are saying that Democrats just got some good news in New York State. Two of them are Cook's Wasserman and Kyle Kondik of Sabato's Crystal Ball:
Here are some more reactions to Katko’s announcement:
Rare good news for Dems: Katko is a Republican who's been winning in pretty strongly blue turf in upstate New York. Another angle to look at it from: Katko was one of the small group of Republicans to back impeachment, so another one in that group is heading for the exits. https://t.co/yyVm7PKtKz
— Taniel (@Taniel) January 14, 2022
This. House Rs lost one of their top political talents. Comes a week after this Politico story:https://t.co/Ik76aM6jEq https://t.co/QhQi3uay33
— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) January 14, 2022
>@RepJohnKatko announces he will not seek re-election. Another one of the 10 House Rs who voted for impeachment who is calling it quits. Says it's "so that I can enjoy my family and life in a fuller and more present way"
— Catie Edmondson (@CatieEdmondson) January 14, 2022