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Between the Lines: State Lawmakers Ready Pennsylvania Map for Monday Target

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Republican Rep. Glenn Thompson will see some new territory once Pennsylvania’s new Congressional map is approved. Republicans want to split Democratic Erie County between Thompson and fellow GOP Rep. Mike Kelly.

Keystone State lawmakers continue to work through several last-minute adjustments to the state's new Congressional map while they try to make their projected Monday release date.

Sources say state lawmakers hope to pass the map by Dec. 14, but Republicans caution that might be an unrealistic target because so many unresolved issues remain on the table.

The state lost a House seat in reapportionment, and Republicans have indicated for months that they plan to move Democratic Reps. Jason Altmire and Mark Critz into the same southwestern district. For related reasons, southwestern Pennsylvania remains the most fluid area in current map discussions.

Lawmakers are seriously considering a proposal that creates a series of concentric circle districts around the Pittsburgh area. Rep. Mike Doyle (D) would continue to represent the Steel City's downtown, Rep. Tim Murphy (R) would represent more of the northern suburbs, and the district intended for Critz and Altmire would include the exurbs and small towns around the rest of southwestern Pennsylvania.

But Congressional cartography is never that simple. Influential local Republicans want to ensure that Beaver County, on the state's western Ohio border, lies in the district intended for Altmire and Critz. State Rep. Jim Christiana's (R) base is in Beaver County, and he's planning to run against the victor of that Democratic primary.

A powerful GOP state lawmaker continues to shop around a map that moves Altmire's home into Murphy's district. But Republicans in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., want to avoid the Murphy-vs.-Altmire situation at all costs.

Finally, mapmakers are putting the finishing touches on a map of northwestern Pennsylvania that splits Erie County into two House districts. Republicans aim to split the Democratic county between GOP Reps. Glenn Thompson and Mike Kelly to try to shore up the latter's competitive district.

Thompson appeared amenable to usurping parts of Erie County into his sprawling, mostly rural 5th district.

"Erie County has a lot of agriculture. That part of Erie would probably be a good fit for the 5th," Thompson told Roll Call at the Capitol. "All I know is the district right now is 22 percent of the state in terms of land mass, and it's going to get larger."

Florida: Intent Is Key in Congressional Maps

Who knows what lurks in the hearts of men? The answer to that question may well decide how many Congressional seats Democrats are able to pick up in Florida this cycle, where the legality of new lines hinges on the intent of Republican mapmakers.

A 2010 Sunshine State constitutional amendment prohibits crafting Congressional districts with "the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or an incumbent."

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