In a mostly partisan 55-36 vote, the House joined the state Senate, which voted 20-10 on Thursday, to have a primary on March 6 for state, local and U.S. Senate races, and another June 12 for congressional and presidential races. Gov. John Kasich signed the bill Friday night.
An extra primary will cost Ohio’s 88 counties an estimated $15 million — $500,000 of which will be Lorain County’s share, although the cash-strapped state would reimburse them. Democratic critics of the move decried it as irresponsible in the wake of mass unemployment and massive cuts to the state budget.
“Lorain County is out of work, and many could probably use some retraining, but we’re throwing away $15 million,” said Rep. Matt Lundy, D-Elyria, who cast a “no” vote Friday.
Republicans wanted the primary split so they could have more time to negotiate with Democrats over the new GOP-drawn congressional map. The congressional and presidential races are dependent on those changed districts, which is why the primary for those races will be held in June, but Republicans did not want to hold up the other races, which are not affected by the redistricting.
Democrats argued that the entire primary should be moved to June.
Ohio Democrats have been fighting the redrawn congressional maps, saying the new districts give Republicans a better chance to hold on to their seats. Democrats are in the process of collecting signatures to try and overturn the map on the November 2012 ballot.
“This is a reckless delay tactic,” said state Rep. Dan Ramos, D-Lorain. “The majority didn’t do the right thing when they drew their first map, and now that Ohioans have responded, they’re delaying in the hopes that the referendum on their current lines will fall short. Failing that, this gives them time to wheel-and-deal to make a second map that will still serve their interests while appearing less despicable.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.