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FIRST ON FOX: The father of an Ohio Democrat congressional candidate serves on the commission that helped to draw the district where his daughter is running.
Ohio state Senator Vernon Sykes, a Democrat, sits as a co-chair of the Ohio Redistricting Commission, the body tasked with creating the new congressional map should the state legislature fail to do so.
However, there appears to be a conflict of interest in Sykes’ work with the commission: his daughter, former state Rep. Emilia Sykes, is running for Congress this cycle.
The younger Sykes, the former minority leader of the state House, announced she would be running for Congress in January 2022 as her father served on the commission.
Ohio state Rep. Emilia Sykes is running against Republican nominee Madison Gilbert for vacating Rep. Tim Ryan’s, D-Ohio, seat. (Screenshot/YouTube/Leslie Ungar)
The legislature’s map passed but was eventually struck down by the Ohio Supreme Court, sending the map to the currently GOP-led commission.
After the legislature’s map was struck down, Vernon did not recuse himself from the commission after his daughter announced her candidacy, instead continuing to serve as a co-chair of the body as it redrew the congressional maps that will be in play for a decade.
Additionally, Vernon Sykes unsuccessfully introduced another map in March 2022 that would have made the district his daughter is running in favor Democrats.
Emilia herself also previously served on the commission before announcing her run for Congress and voted against the initial map proposed by the state legislature.
The elder Sykes told Fox News Digital that the “Republicans on the Ohio Redistricting Commission drew this map.”
Former state Rep. Emilia Sykes is running to replace outgoing US Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, seen here, as he runs for the Senate. (Joshua A. Bickel/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)
“I voted against it because it gerrymanders Ohio,” the Ohio state senator said.
Sykes’ office declined to comment further in response to follow-up questions on whether the senator believed there was a conflict of interest in voting on the congressional map and by introducing his own map.
Emilia Sykes’ campaign spokesperson Samantha Herd went after Republican nominee Madison Gesiotto Gilbert in response to questions from Fox News Digital, accusing the GOP nominee of “resorting to desperate attacks” against the Sykeses.
“It’s no surprise that Madison is already resorting to desperate attacks on Emilia’s family because she doesn’t want voters to know that she bought and sold homes in multiple districts because she cares more about being in Congress than actually helping the people of the 13th,” Herd said.
State Senator Vernon Sykes, D-Ohio, served on the Ohio Redistricting Commission while his daughter ran for Congress. (Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Even with her father’s role in redistricting, the resulting district that the younger Sykes is running in to replace outgoing Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, is a toss-up race in an election year heavily favoring Republicans.
The younger Sykes is facing Gilbert, a Trump administration alum seeking to flip the seat red.
The connection to former President Donald Trump may be a big boon for Gilbert going into the election as the national attitude towards Democrats sours.
However, nothing is guaranteed in politics and the Sykes’ role in drawing the congressional map may yield fruit yet to be seen.
Houston Keene is a politics reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @HoustonKeene