By Jim EllisApril 8, 2022 — Expressing frustration with the Ohio courts and constituent complexion of his new district, six-term Buckeye State Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Lakeville) on Wednesday surprisingly became the 22nd Republican US House member who has decided not to seek re-election.
This retirement announcement is different from all the others — 31 Democrats have also made public their decision to leave the House at the end of the current session — because Gibbs had filed for re-election and Ohio early voting has already begun.
Lashing out at the state Supreme Court that has delayed for weeks in providing 2022 candidates a clear direction with regard to the redistricting maps, Gibbs said in his retirement announcement statement, “It is irresponsible to effectively confirm the congressional map for this election cycle seven days before voting begins, especially in the Seventh Congressional District, where almost 90 percent of the electorate is new and nearly two-thirds is an area primarily from another district, foreign to any expectations or connection to the current Seventh District.”
Rep. Gibbs has a valid point about the state Supreme Court. After rejecting the original congressional map under partisan gerrymandering reasoning, the legislature returned a second map, and the court did not render a decision, even after again rejecting the alternative version maps for the state House and Senate. Therefore, the congressional incumbents and candidates have been languishing for weeks not knowing precisely the location of the new district lines, and long past the candidate filing deadline that occurred on March 4.
The court justices then informed the Democratic plaintiffs regarding their lawsuit challenging the congressional lines, after waiting for several weeks with no action, that the original decision on the first map constituted their final ruling, thus the plaintiffs would have to file a new lawsuit for them to consider further arguments to the second plan. The Democratic plaintiffs did file again, but even preliminary action of any kind is reportedly now months away. Hence, the second map is, at least for now, in place for the 2022 election cycle.
The court and legislature were also in a battle over whether the high court even has jurisdiction to order new maps. Under the Ohio Constitution, the courts do not have authority to draw new redistricting maps. They may only remand any rejected map back to the legislature. Thus, the continuing saga of 2022 Ohio redistricting.
Considering Gibbs’ late withdrawal, Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) immediately announced that the congressman’s name cannot be removed from the ballot, and any vote cast for him would now not be counted. The move puts former Trump White House aide and Marine Corps veteran Max Miller in the favorite’s position for the Republican primary.