Feb. 11 Sandusky Register (Ohio)
As Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine begins his second term, he has created quite a legacy of success already that could qualify him as one of the most successful governors in the state’s history. Some might argue that his success is a model for the nation.
But there is one area where he defied the will of the people and put party over the best interests of the state. He will have another opportunity to fix that failure, however, when Round 2 of the redistricting battles in the state Legislature, governed by the state constitution, commences next year. More on that later.
The successes DeWine has achieved already, and the agenda he has set for the next two years, are impressive enough to be duly noted and fully acknowledged here, first.
Bringing back manufacturing to the state is likely the key area where DeWine succeeded beyond expectations. The Intel microchips facility in central Ohio alone, a $20 billion project, is expected to create 3,000 jobs in high-tech manufacturing.
DeWine’s two-year budget proposal calls for spending $2.5 billion to make sure there’s a manufacturing plant site ready for companies to build on in every part of the state, “within an hour’s commute of every state resident.”
The automotive industry’s reinvestment in Ohio under DeWine also is more than we would have expected, including in Lorain County, where the Ford Motor Co. is investing $1.5 billion in its manufacturing plant there, adding about 1,800 union jobs.
Coming into office in 2019, DeWine convinced state lawmakers to approve an increase in the gas tax to help fund badly needed infrastructure repairs. Roads and bridges had been neglected for decades without a plan to fund proper maintenance. The governor got that done.
And, quickly thereafter, the pandemic began to dominate the governor’s agenda. DeWine deftly managed the crisis, stayed resolute and inspired confidence during a period in which strife and animosity threatened to envelop local and state health officials and mire lawmakers in petty arguments and conspiracies.
All the while, DeWine kept his focus on the elements of long-term success, including workforce development, mental health and addiction recovery services, making the state a welcoming place for companies to locate. His budget proposal now being considered by the Legislature accounts for continuing each of these initiatives.
But gerrymandering, the practice of drawing political maps to give unfair advantage to one political party over the other, is an area in which DeWine and others failed to follow the will of the people. It’s also the area in which DeWine will have a second chance to get right, beginning next year.
We hope the governor can look at, ponder upon and fix this. DeWine and Republican Party leaders defied the requirements of state law and finally approved gerrymandered maps last year with no bipartisan support. The governor looked at it, it seems, and decided he was never going to get Republican lawmakers to acquiesce and do what was required by law.
So, instead, he went along with maps that are even more gerrymandered than they were before the process started. They are more damaging to the state’s long-term political interests in having fair elections.
It was a mistake, in our view, one that mars DeWine’s record of success.
We hope he will rethink what he told us when we asked him about it this past week.
“It didn’t work,” said DeWine, suggesting the plan put forward in two amendments to the state constitution overwhelmingly approved by voters to end gerrymandering of state and federal political maps could not be implemented.
DeWine, who spoke with extreme and mature confidence about every aspect of his agenda and his responsibilities as governor, was impishly suggesting he had no power to end gerrymandering despite the widespread bipartisan support that existed when the law was changed.
We think you do, Gov. DeWine. We think you have the leadership skills and the political capital to do what Ohioans want you to do: Make sure our elections are fair and that state leaders, yourself included, and lawmakers observe the rule of law.
It’s our state constitution. It must be respected. This is about fair elections, a righteous goal that will serve Ohioans for generations if we can accomplish it.
Please Gov. DeWine: Do the right thing. End gerrymandering.