Sunday, October 28, 2012

Goodbye 18th District, hello 7th District

President Barack Obama’s trusted adviser David Axelrod was asked in the wake of the Oct. 3 debate what he thought of his boss’ performances.

Initially, he sounded like the trusted-cheerleader-no-matter-what, telling the TV pundits that his candidate did fine. In the days following, he acknowledged that Mitt Romney might have won.

“He delivered his lines well,” Axelrod said on MSNBC. But then he delivered the spin:

“The problem isn’t with his performance. The problem is with his underlying theories and some fundamental dishonesty that we saw last night. I give him an ‘F’ for being honest with the American people."

Don’t be too tough on Axelrod. His job, as it is with all political party strategists and leaders, is to manipulate the message and push it in the direction that serves the cause.

So it is with my friend Doug Wills, chairman of the Tuscarawas County Republican Party, who also happens to be a long-suffering fan of the Cleveland Browns (he and his wife were once featured in a Browns newspaper advertisement) and is one of the longtime forces behind the annual success of the Tuscarawas County Fair.

When asked by the local daily newspaper about the impact of two congressional districts in Tuscarawas County, Wills said, “It will be of great benefit, because we will have two people watching and caring and lobbying for the county, versus one person.”

Oh, Doug. That’s spin. Major spin.

But I understand why he had to put a positive bent on the redistricting map – which the Republican party drew with its own interests in mind -- because we’re stuck with it until 2022.

It will be 10 years worth of people walking around Tuscarawas County not knowing who their congressman is. Don’t believe me? Next summer, take a random survey of neighbors and friends. I’ll bet many will draw blanks.

That’s because Dover-New Philadelphia and northern Tuscarawas County will be a part of the 7th District while Dennison-Uhrichsville and southern Tuscarawas County will be part of the 6th District.
The “7th District” just doesn’t roll off the tongue.

Incumbents are Republicans Bill Johnson of Washington County in the 6th District and Bob Gibbs of Holmes County in the 7th District. The old 18th District, which has included Tuscarawas County for nearly forever, will no longer exist.

The 6th District stretches from Mahoning County to the north and hugs the Ohio River southward to Lawrence County. On the other side of the Ohio border are three different states – Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky.

In addition to northern Tuscarawas County, the 7th District includes all or parts of Cochocton, Knox, Holmes, Stark, Ashland, Richland, Medina, Huron and Lorain. It includes the cities of Canton, Ashland and Avon.

Thank goodness we have Google Maps.

In other words, the 7th District will include Appalachia, Cleveland suburbia and mile upon mile of rural Ohio farmland with one representative to look out for all our interests. That’s not to say that we haven’t been part of a sprawling congressional district before. We have. But we were the big dogs – the reporting county -- the county with the most people.

How often will our congressman visit Dover-New Philadelphia? Well, you can bet he/she won’t be here very often now that Tuscarawas County doesn’t offer the number of votes it once a did. And I’d be surprised if either congressman locates an office in Tuscarawas County. Time will tell whether we get our fair share of federal projects, but to hear every politician talk there won’t be any money anyway.

Chances of a Tuscarawas County resident running and winning the congressional seat as Zack Space did in 2006, are now non-existent.

Gibbs, whose home is at least nearby in Holmes County, faces opposition from Democrat Joyce Healy-Abrams of Canton. Her brother, William Healy II, is mayor of Canton.

In the 6th, Johnson is in a rematch with Democrat Charlie Wilson of St. Clairsville, whom Johnson defeated in 2010.

The polls favor the incumbent Republicans at this point.

Incidentally, the daily newspaper story noted that both Gibbs and Johnson spoke at the GOP’s Lincoln Day banquet this year. So, we have that going for us.

Yes, that’s sarcasm.

Read more from Dick Farrell at

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