Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
World | By Melba Underwood

Pennsylvania Governor Rejects GOP Gerrymander, Setting Up Likely Democratic Gains in Congress

Pennsylvania Governor Rejects GOP Gerrymander, Setting Up Likely Democratic Gains in Congress

Montgomery County's total population of almost 800,000 should be enough for the county to have one dedicated representative in Washington, Rafferty told the board, because the average congressional district in the state contains roughly 710,000 people - but because of the current map, Montgomery County is now split between five different districts.

"As long as our elections are on schedule, we will be fine", Jeff Greenburg, the county official in charge of the election process, said Thursday during the county commissioners meeting. That seems unlikely. If he rejects the maps as being partisan-biased, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will have an independent expert from Stanford draw the new maps from scratch.

Wolf rejected Friday's GOP proposal, saying it still contains unconstitutionally partisan tactics.

If Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf and his team create their own maps, Republicans will say the maps lean too far to the left.

State Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, a Jefferson County Republican, and House Speaker Mike Turzai, an Allegheny County Republican, sent the revamped map to Wolf Friday without a vote from the House or Senate.

A second, 4-3 majority held that new maps should be put in place in time for this spring's primary.

Wolf's office retained Moon Duchin, a Tufts University mathematician, to analyze the Republican proposal. In other words, it was gerrymandered, or manipulated to give Republicans an advantage.

In a letter to the lawmakers, Wolf also claimed the proposed map keeps 70 percent of residents in districts the court found unconstitutional.

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.

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"As nonpartisan analysts have already said, their map maintains a similar partisan advantage by employing numerous same unconstitutional tactics present in their 2011 map", Wolf said.

The rebuke from Republicans was swift.

Executive Director of the League of Women Voters, PA, Suzanne Almeida, says, "We're excited that something was submitted".

Speaking to reporters after Wolf's announcement, Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman said the governor's move appears to be meant to run out the clock on a timeline set by the Supreme Court.

"A few weeks ago, when we started talking about this, we didn't at all anticipate that it would be on the heels of a Pennsylvania supreme court decision, so we could not have timed that any better", he said. "I can't help where people live".

Nonetheless, the redrawn map nearly certainly is dead on arrival with Wolf, given that it still is rigged to protect Republicans. "This is about a bad map, and its about voters in Pennsylvania not being able to have an equal right to vote for the people that they want", Almeida said.

Just as the borough is divided on the map, the Lansford council is split politically, with three Republicans, three Democrats and Soto, a non-partisan voter.

Under the new Republican map, Trump won 12 - albeit a slightly different 12 - Clinton, six.

Turzai and Scarnati responded to Wolf with their own harshly-worded letter Tuesday afternoon and said his "pronouncements are absurd". "... We're not going to do it with this gun to our head".

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