New map could change political landscape

New map could change political landscape

New map could change political landscape

- Pennsylvania Democrats on Saturday described a revised congressional district map being proposed by Republican leaders as too partisan, citing as evidence the results of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday informed the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that he was not accepting the Republicans' redraw of Congressional boundaries in the state.

He also stated that the map submitted to the governor on Friday did not take competitiveness of the new districts into account - noting such considerations are in direct violation of the court's order - adding that the map was drawn with compactness and contiguousness being overarching factors in how the districts were determined. Wolf had until February 15 to decide if he'd approve the changes. "Their map clearly seeks to benefit one political party, which is the essence of why the court found the current map to be unconstitutional".

In a statement, House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tem Joseph Scarnati dismissed Wolf's objections to the Republican plan as "absurd" and called on the governor to release details of any recommendations he plans to make to the court.

Wolf said he remains open to working with the legislature and hopes the General Assembly, as a body - not just two leaders - can submit a map for his consideration. That backup opinion did not arrive until late Wednesday and by then the House and Senate had adjourned.

"Pennsylvania Republicans have drawn a new congressional map that is just as gerrymandered the old one", the Washington Post wrote, in a quote provided by Wolf.

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State Republican leaders delivered an updated map to his office Friday night.

"I would find that hard to believe", he said.

Here is the Joint Submission Congressional District Map submitted today.

For example, Pottstown, which votes Democratic in most elections, is divided into two districts in the state's House of Representatives with part in the 26th District represented by state Rep. Tim Hennessey, a Republican. The Republican Party has dominating majorities in both chambers of the state Legislature, which normally controls the process of redrawing the congressional boundaries. Another issue, likely well-funded challengers to incumbent GOP Congressman, including Ryan Costello (R-6) in Chester County were redistricted out of their current districts.

Out of the millions of new, less-biased district maps that Duchin says Republicans could have come up with, they came up with one that doesn't look like the one that exists now, but reflects nearly the same voting trends. The new map? It also features a Republican majority in 12 of the 18 districts, in a state where Donald Trump won the overall vote by less than a percentage point. "We are expecting it to be a public and transparent drawing of what he considers to be a fair map", Turzai said.

And while Republicans have argued that Pennsylvania has a natural geographic bias toward Republicans because Democrats cluster tightly in urban areas, Duchin's analysis found that the Republican map goes beyond that bias. If the deadlines aren't met, the court will draw its own map "based on the evidentiary record developed".

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