The prize for winning these down-ticket Ohio races: Seats at the redistricting table

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Ohio auditor and secretary of state have a big say in deciding what the Ohio Statehouse looks like. Both positions have a seat on a commission that in 2021 will get its first chance to redraw Ohio's district lines.

That power could draw attention to what otherwise might be considered ho-hum, down-ballot races in 2018.  It may not be important to run of the mill voters, but for those who follow politics closely, and donate to candidates, the issue is significant. The commission will help determine how Ohio will look politically, for up to a decade.

"It really matters," Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper said. "These seats take on extra importance when there is redistricting coming up."

Republicans and Democrats say they want to see candidates in these offices who value what's best for the state over any political interests. Still, the party that has the majority on the commission will have greater leverage in deciding what Ohio legislative districts look like -- though there is incentive to compromise with the minority party, Ohio State University law professor Dan Tokaji said.

The seven-person commission -- created when voters approved a constitutional amendment to reform Statehouse redistricting in 2015 -- includes four members (two selected by each party's leaders from the Ohio House and Senate). The commission also includes three statewide elected officeholders: The governor, auditor and secretary of state...

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