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Rep. Jim Gerlach’s (R) 6th district, a perennial target for House Democrats, moved north in Berks County and west into conservative Lebanon County. Mapmakers aimed to make his district less competitive in future cycles with these shifts.
But freshman Rep. Lou Barletta (R) was perhaps the biggest winner in the redraw — the partisan bend of his district changed more than any other member of the delegation. Mapmakers took what is currently a Democratic-leaning district and moved it west into Cumberland County in central Pennsylvania, keeping only his Hazleton base in Luzerne County.
Similarly, Rep. Tim Holden’s (D) district will flip from a heavily Republican district to become a safe Democratic seat under the new lines. Republicans moved the cities of Wilkes-Barre and Scranton into Holden’s district, which still includes his base in Schuylkill County.
Republicans also redrew districts held by GOP Reps. Charlie Dent and Tom Marino, adding more conservative counties in central Pennsylvania to make their districts safer. It’s doubtful Democrats could try to target either again under these new lines.
Under the new map, Democrats will probably view the seats held by GOP Reps. Mike Fitzpatrick and Mike Kelly as their most plausible pickup opportunities.
Republicans couldn’t do much for Fitzpatrick, whose Bucks County district in southeastern Pennsylvania borders New Jersey. Mapmakers also tried their best to shore up Kelly’s seat in northwestern Pennsylvania, but the GOP made sacrifices to ensure the redrawn 12th district remained competitive.
Some Pennsylvania GOP Members gave up significant amounts of Republican territory to shore up their more vulnerable colleagues in the redistricting effort.
Rep. Bill Shuster (R), who played a prominent role in the mapmaking, gave up more GOP territory than any of his colleagues. His loss in southwestern Pennsylvania made the redrawn 12th district more competitive.
To a lesser extent, Pitts, the dean of the delegation, acquired more competitive territory in Berks County in order to help Meehan and Gerlach.
Rep. Glenn Thompson (R) also picked up some Democratic territory in Erie County to make Kelly’s district safer for him.
Each district has a population of about 705,000, according to Pennsylvania lawmakers who unveiled the proposal at a committee hearing. The state Senate will vote on the map Wednesday morning, and the House will vote on the measure after that. Once the Legislature passes the new map, it will head to Gov. Tom Corbett’s desk for his signature.