Between the Lines: New Pa. Map Means Winners and Losers
Pennsylvania’s biggest winners this week are the five GOP freshmen — all of whom saw their districts improve under the proposed new Congressional map.
House Democrats lost out after Republican mapmakers moved two of their Members — Jason Altmire and Mark Critz — into the same district and made several Eastern Pennsylvania districts less competitive.
But a deeper look at the map proposed on Tuesday, which is likely to become law, yielded a few more winners and losers.
Pennsylvania Republicans sought to draw a map that protected their 12 Members and put the redrawn 12th district in play.
The Pennsylvania Senate will consider the map this week before sending it to the state House for a vote. Gov. Tom Corbett (R) is expected to sign it into law.
• Reps. Lou Barletta and Pat Meehan
The partisan makeup of Barletta’s Northeastern Pennsylvania district changed more than that of any other Member in Pennsylvania, moving from a seat that leans Democratic to one that is a likely a Republican hold.
Barletta, also a GOP freshman, had some help on the inside of the mapmaking process. One of his top political aides, Luke Bernstein, serves as one of the governor’s deputy chiefs of staff.
Similarly, Republicans went to incredible lengths to improve Meehan’s district — changing it from a Democratic-leaning seat to a marginally GOP-leaning one. But the freshman’s big coup is between the lines: The Pennsylvania GOP showed they want to protect Meehan at any cost — a sign they might be grooming him for higher office in future cycles.
• Rep. Bill Shuster
The fifth-term Republican proved his mettle this cycle by serving as the point-person between lawmakers in Harrisburg and Members in Washington, D.C. Fellow Republicans lauded him for shoring up the freshman Members’ districts while keeping the most senior Members happy with their new territory.
But Shuster also wins the generosity award for giving up more GOP territory than any other Republican in the delegation to help his colleagues. Sure, it’s all relative for Shuster, who will go from a district that voted for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) with 64 percent to one that went for him with 58 percent.
Nonetheless, as a result of his redistricting efforts, he’s emerged as the top Republican leader in the delegation.
• House Republicans’ Pocketbook
During the past decade, House Republicans poured many millions of dollars into competitive Pennsylvania races. The National Republican Congressional Committee should be able to save a lot of cash in coming years under this redraw.
The swing seats around Philadelphia came at an especially high cost because of the city’s pricey media market.
But now that Meehan and Rep. Jim Gerlach are less enticing targets for Democrats, House Republicans should be able to save their cash for other races.
• Rep. Tim Holden
The 10-term Democrat slipped through GOP hands a decade ago when he defeated then-Rep. George Gekas (R) in a district that was redrawn to elect a Republican. Ten years later, Holden gets his reward — a heavily Democratic district that includes his base in Schuylkill County, plus Wilkes-Barre and Scranton.
To be fair, this new district includes a lot of new territory for Holden. Immediately after the map was released, Republicans and Democrats whispered about potential primary challengers.
But Holden’s new district is pretty disjointed. Only a Democratic opponent very well-known in the Lackawanna County media market could give him a tough run. Even then, Holden would be favored to hold this district.
• Bucks County Democrats
Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick is the state’s only GOP Member representing a Democratic-leaning district under the new map. That means he’s now No. 1 on the Democratic target list in the state.
Bucks County Democrats couldn’t be happier to see Fitzpatrick’s district mostly unchanged under the new map. It’s a great opportunity for ambitious local officeholders to challenge him next year.
Watch for House Democrats to recruit harder here than before. It’s the party’s best chance to pick up a seat in the state.
• Sen. Pat Toomey
It’s no secret Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D) has thought about running for Senate, and her most likely future opponent is the Republican.
GOP mapmakers initially pondered putting Schwartz and Rep. Chaka Fattah into the same district, but they abandoned that idea in favor of shoring up GOP incumbents in the Philadelphia area instead.
Now Schwartz is safer than ever under the proposed map. The four-term Democratic Congresswoman can continue to stockpile cash until the time is right to challenge Toomey.
• Democratic Comeback Candidates
The proposed map isn’t good news for former Rep. Christopher Carney (D) or 2010 Democratic candidates Manan Trivedi and Doug Pike — all three of whom are thinking about running again.
Carney lost the most in this redraw. He lives in Rep. Tom Marino’s (R) district, which Republicans made safer. He also toyed with challenging Barletta, but that district would be tough for him, too.
Similarly, Republicans drew tough districts for Trivedi and Pike to challenge Gerlach or Meehan in Southeastern Pennsylvania next year.
All three will face tougher campaigns than last year if they decide to run again.
• Rep. Joe Pitts’ Successor
The 16th district is tailor-made for Pitts — the way it stretches into Chester County to pick up his home. That’s not good news for the ambitious Republican who runs when Pitts, 72, retires from Congress.
President Barack Obama would have won this redrawn district in 2008, which means it could be competitive in future cycles. Even though Lancaster County has consistently voted for Republicans, this district is changing — and could prove to be a challenge for whoever tries to succeed Pitts.
Rhode Island: Cicilline, Langevin Battle Over One Line
The two men who represent the Ocean State in Congress are from the same party but find themselves at each other’s throats in the homestretch of the state’s redistricting process.
Democratic Reps. James Langevin and David Cicilline have engaged in a public dispute over the one line that divides the state’s Congressional districts. The primary issue is that Langevin’s 2nd district needs to shift 7,200 constituents to Cicilline’s 1st district.
Cicilline’s team is pushing for what has been described as a “semi-final” map that shifts about 120,000 constituents back and forth between the two districts. This effort includes moving three towns within his existing lines that he lost in 2010 out of his current district.
Langevin is pushing for a slight change in lines within Providence, the only city that is divided under the current map. Langevin previously supported that approach along with then-Rep. Patrick Kennedy during the last redistricting cycle.
Some in Rhode Island politics suspect Cicilline is attempting to move out areas that he lost in 2010.
“It’s not that simple,” state House Communications Director Larry Berman told Roll Call. He explained that a growing Hispanic population is also a factor that is being taken into account.
“David is happy to have the honor of representing Rhode Islanders wherever the lines are drawn,” Cicilline spokeswoman Raymonde Charles told WPRI.
Rhode Island’s Commission on Reapportionment is bipartisan but Democratic-
dominated. The group will tentatively recommend a map Monday to the Democratically controlled state Legislature.
The Legislature usually passes a map that closely resembles the commission’s recommendations. A map’s passage into law will likely come early next year.
Ohio: State Moves to Unify 2012 Primary Dates
Ohio lawmakers reportedly arrived at an agreement Wednesday to unify the date of the state’s Senate and Congressional primaries March 6.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that Democratic and Republican lawmakers were about to move a bill that creates a single primary and makes some minor tweaks to the already-approved Congressional map. Legislators approved splitting the primary dates earlier this year, with the Senate primary in March and the House and presidential primary in June. Buckeye State Republicans drew an aggressive new Congressional map aimed at giving the GOP a 12-to-4 advantage in the delegation.
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