Seeing red after the 2018 election? If only northern Ohio were its own state

November 7, 2018

Seeing red after the 2018 election? If only northern Ohio were its own state

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Ohio looks definitively red this morning. And in Cuyahoga County, that may make you feel pretty blue.

Republicans swept statewide offices. Only nine of Ohio’s 88 counties voted for Democrat Richard Cordray over Republican Mike DeWine for governor.

Six of those counties were in northern Ohio.

So what if northern Ohio -- the comparatively more urban, more liberal Ohio -- broke off from the rest of the state?

Imagine a smaller state carved out around Lake Erie, where we could keep our tax money nearby, empower cities to enact their own laws and elect a legislature more closely matched between Democrats and Republicans. We could focus on solving urban problems, rather than fighting anti-abortion efforts. Protect our Great Lake, rather than caving to agriculture lobbyists.

Sure, the concept sounds silly.

But we in Cleveland feel stuck. We’re a Democratic metropolis governed by Republicans who see the state very differently than we do. Fights erupt time and time again, over fracking and gun regulation and minimum wage. The state legislature overrules, takes our tax money and disperses it to rural areas.

So last year, cleveland.com explored the idea as a vehicle to show how little clout and control Northeast Ohio has over its destiny in its series, Western Reserve -- the 51st State?

We banded together 26 northern Ohio counties in our hypothetical new state of Western Reserve and discussed what that would mean.

The demographics would make us pretty evenly split politically, Democrat and Republican, creating robust debates in our statehouse. The geography would mean we’d all care about the health of Lake Erie. And it would make Cleveland the largest, most influential city in the state.

The discussion feels even more relevant today. Take a look back at a few pieces:

The breakdown: Explaining the political makeup of the state, and how powerless Democratic, urban, Northeast Ohio legislators are in the statehouse.

The numbers: What taxes do northern Ohioans pay, and what gets returned to us?

The differences: What makes northern Ohio different from southern Ohio? Politics, demographics, education levels, housing levels, plus photos of landmarks from both parts of the state.

The federal money: Where does the federal money go? Would we get more if we were our own state?

The dispute over home rule: Ohio cities have lost their right to decide myriad issues, including fracking, traffic cameras and minimum wage. Describing the city vs. state fight, with weigh-in from Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson.

The new guarantees: What rights could a new constitution guarantee? Abortion, marijuana, gambling? What other rights matter to northern Ohioans? With a poll.

The politics: What would a new state mean for national politics? We’d have two more senators, and no longer would we be an important swing state in presidential races.

What if: Would a separate state of North Ohio have changed the Bush v. Gore election? (Yes, yes it would.)

The new legislature: How would we draw statehouse districts? Could we avoid gerrymandering?

The new taxation system: What would you want to tax statewide? Could we eliminate any taxes?

Would you favor splitting off into a 51st state of northern Ohio called Western Reserve?  cleveland.com

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