Pennsylvania Republicans revise congressional districts
Harrisburg, Pa. – Republican leaders of the Pennsylvania Legislature said Friday they reached internal agreement on a proposed new map of the state’s 18 congressional districts to replace the one thrown out last month.
House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati said in a statement that their map “complies fully” with directions from the state Supreme Court.
The court declared the 2011 Republican-crafted map unconstitutional on Jan. 22 and directed the General Assembly to propose a new one and send it to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.
Turzai and Scarnati said they would provide it to Wolf on Friday night, but the precise timing was unclear. A House Republican spokesman said the map also would be made public late Friday.
Under the Supreme Court order, Wolf has until Thursday to tell the justices if he supports it.
If not, the Democratic court majority said the court would develop its own map.
Democrats hope a new map will help them flip enough seats in Congress to retake the majority.
Wolf issued a statement earlier Friday that raised doubts about whether the Republican leaders’ proposed map would suffice.
“While an ideal scenario would be a consensus map that can garner the support of both chambers in the General Assembly and meets the standards for fairness, it remains unclear, at this time, if the entire General Assembly will be engaged in such a bipartisan process,” Wolf said. “If not, I will evaluate what options are at my disposal.”
The House Democratic leader, Frank Dermody, said his members had no role in producing the plan.
“To be clear, this plan was conceived by a couple of Republican leaders,” Dermody said in a statement. “It is not a product of the entire General Assembly. Nevertheless, we will review and evaluate the plan to see if it meets our understanding of the Supreme Court’s instruction.”
The 2011 map has been an electoral success for Republicans, getting them a 13-5 majority in the congressional delegation for the past three elections. A group of registered Democratic voters sued last June to challenge the constitutionality of the maps.
The court’s Democratic majority said the plan violates a provision of the state constitution that guarantees “free and equal” elections, subverting redistricting objectives such as compactness and minimal municipal splits to the goal of gaining partisan advantage.
The court has said a new map will be in place by Feb. 19. It will be used for the May 15 primary, but not for the March 13 special election to fill a vacant congressional seat in southwestern Pennsylvania.
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