Exclusive: PA’s GOP Congessional Delegation Coming to Harrisburg to Discuss Redistricting Scenarios

By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor

PoliticsPA has just learned that Pennsylvania’s Republican delegation is coming to Harrisburg on Monday to discuss possible outcomes of legislative redistricting with the caucus leaders of the PA House and Senate.

The office of Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi confirmed to PoliticsPA that the meeting will take place, but did not confirm the agenda.

With PA’s first census numbers expected to be released next week, Congressional Republicans are looking at a variety of ways to strengthen their electoral hold on the state.

Priority number one for this year, according to insiders, is to preserve the gains of 2010 and create more secure Republican seats.

The GOP learned well the lessons of 2001, when Harrisburg Republicans called most of the shots. Most GOP insiders now agree that the party over-reached that year and left the delegation vulnerable to large swings (e.g. 2006 and 2008).

This year, the effort will be a collaboration, and the GOP’s strategy is already taking shape.

Here are some scenarios that PA’s Republican Congressmen are talking about, according to sources close to the delegation:

Schwartz vs. Fattah
Republicans are eying the possibility of matching up two of PA’s most powerful Democrats in a fratricidal showdown. Schwartz has millions of campaign dollars and the support of the white collar liberals of the Philly suburbs. Her district currently abuts that of Chaka Fattah, the most liked public figure in Philadelphia. It’s unlikely either would be willing to budge from their seat if their districts were combined, and that would mean a knock-down, drag-out fight between the liberal white Democrats of the suburbs and the African-American Democrats of Philly. What Republican wouldn’t love to see that?

Go West, Suburban Republicans
Each of the Philly area Republicans hopes to have his district made more secure, and they’re looking west to do it.  The state’s population growth is disproportionately found in south central PA, meaning that the Lancaster-based 16th district is likely to contract. That would leave room for Reps. Gerlach and Meehan to move west into the conservative parts of Chester County. Rep. Joe Pitts is the X-factor. The 71 year-old dean of the GOP delegation, Pitts lives in Chester County and would prefer to keep the seat based there.

Shuffle SWPA Dems and Beat Altmire the Old-Fashioned Way

The GOP sees Rep. Jason Altmire as the most vulnerable Democrat in PA, but Republicans (read: Reps. Tim Murphy and Bill Shuster) don’t want to pick up Democratic voters from his district.  The GOP is looking at ways to move Democratic voters from Altmire’s district into either that of Rep. Mark Critz or Rep. Mike Doyle in an effort to tweak the 4th district and ensure a GOP win there. And they’re paying attention to rumblings of a Democratic primary challenger for Altmire.

Barletta Blues
No Republican plan currently on the table will make Rep. Lou Barletta’s Scranton and Wilkes-Barre-based district a sure bet for the freshman Congressman. Barring some radical shift in Tim Holden’s 17th district to include the city of Scranton (which is regarded as a distant possibility at this point), Barletta’s district will become only slightly more favorable for Republicans and will still contain the city of Scranton.

Democratic Winners
GOP plans to secure their districts will come as good news to some Democrats, whose districts are likely to absorb the Democrats that Republicans don’t want. Some of those winners include (as of the current plans): Rep. Mark Critz, Rep. Tim Holden, and Rep. Mike Doyle. Each of their districts is likely to get more blue.

And no matter that the delegation wants to do, none of the Philly-area GOP State Reps. or State Senators (who will actually vote on this in Harrisburg) want to pick a fight with Democratic Party Chairman and Congressman Bob Brady.

Corrections: An earlier version of this story cited Rep. Pitts’ age as 76. He is 71. Additionally, thanks to reader Adam Lang for pointing out our statement that Chaka Fattah is the most-liked figure in Philadelphia. This statement was based on this Municipoll, a link which we originally intended to include.

Clarification: The above scenarios are being discussed by members of the PA delegation, but PoliticsPA has heard conflicting reports as to the level of detail in Monday’s meeting.

March 4th, 2011 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Harrisburg, Redistricting Watch | 10 Comments

10 thoughts on “Exclusive: PA’s GOP Congessional Delegation Coming to Harrisburg to Discuss Redistricting Scenarios”

  1. Chris says:

    Talk about Gerrymandering. Wow.

  2. david hanel says:

    first off i apologize for my mispelling earlier or now. here is my thought remove the “greenwood gash” from montco and give fitzpatrick more of the far northeast. put lower and upper merion back in the 13th essentially split montco in half at roughly 202 everything south schwartz everything north gerlach

  3. BigSkyBob says:

    Either the “current proposal” eliminates a Democrat or a Republican. If this story is to be believed, the “current proposal” is to eliminate a Republican, and jeopardize Barletta. One only has to wonder which Republican district this allegedly is?

    The bottom line is that some Democrat’s district is going to be eliminated, most likely Critz or Holder.

  4. The 30th Ward of Philadelphia is unique, having gradually morphed from an overwhelmingly black ward–the ward which W.E.B. DuBois studied in his classic The Philadelphia Negro–into a predominantly white ward. But both the Brady and Fattah districts remain overwhelmingly nonwhite and heavily Democratic. The current Democratic registration lead in Philadelphia is 798,000 to 127,000, hardly a cause for overwhelming Republican optimism.

    It is technically possible to put Congresswoman Schwartz’s condo into Fattah’s district, but it is rather pointless. She can easily run in a new district with many of her constituents and be the overwhelming favorite to win either an open seat or to defeat a Republican incumbent.

  5. PhillyRN says:

    The GOP can also help establish an honest vote by mandating that Philly fix property tax assessments so that they are legal. That way your corrupt housing “nonprofits” that hold all of this property in limbo, like your Kenny Gamble/Universal Companies types, are not fixing elections by holding so much vacant property out of the voting base.

    If regular people could buy this property because Universal had to pay a market rate on the hundreds of properties they hold vacant and do nothing with, then they’d have to sell. The buyers would be some of the voters like myself — not people who want the current regime to run things.

    These so-called poverty groups are just pimping anti-poverty funding to fix elections. The GOP has to get back in the game of investigating graft, corruption, low performance, and the like at the state level of Philly Dems. Investigate Universal — why has the RDA let them hold so many properties in violation of these redevelopment agreements? This is Germantown Settlement, part II.

  6. PhillyRN says:

    Take my ward for example. The 30th Ward of Philly was only ten years ago all minority, and to get out the vote, Democrats only had to hire busses to ship people to the polls. No more.

    Now half my block is not a reliable Democratic vote, and many are registered Republicans. A challenger to Kenyatta Johnson, Keith Todd, did better than Corbett in parts of South Philly.

    When the census data comes out for Philly, you’ll see that even with the careful attempt to stuff federally funded housing in areas that have some of the strongest real estate markets in the nation, you don’t have enough given Dems voting for the old guard anymore. Democrats now have to work for votes just like the GOP does.

    It’s an evened up race here in the 30th, and SWCC is like many up-and-coming areas. So long as the elections are clean, and the Dems are not using vacant properties to stuff with voters who don’t live here (watch that), so long as Corbett is careful to promote policies that reduce the vacancies that allow that kind of election fraud that is difficult to detect, you’ll see more GOP votes.

    Corbett can do things mandate that Philly overdue property taxes, requiring the city and RDA to sell off vacant property (why do you think Dems love to hold property in limbo forever), then you’ll see an honest election result that delivers GOP votes.

  7. PhillyRN says:

    It’s not the case that Fattah or Brady’s districts are all black or had no changes. Both of these parts of Philly changed the most since the last census. Some wards are no longer all minority; some are not eligible for federal funds any longer like CDBGs or other census-dependent, politically appropriated dollars.

    Fattah and Brady both depended heavily on a federal award system that funneled big dollars into cities no questions asked, even under conservative presidents. All of that has changed.

    With the federal and state budget crisis, the scandal at PHA, and other formerly untouchable federally funded fiefdoms that Democrats controlled, and old residents moving out of Philly, with college educated resident moving in, you have a sea change in the political field in Philly, much like you saw in NYC before Giuliani got elected mayor.

  8. david hanel says:

    fattah and brady’s districts are majority minority which means they are essentially untouchable. unless the state gop wnats to be tired up in court for 8 years you cannot disenfranchise blacks. nc. va, tx, fl, ny all had cases they lost relating to disenfranchising blacks in redistricting. brady is not a paper tiger because he controls city committee which is instrumental in turnout for any statewide race. plus putting fattah and schwartz in the same district means either meehan or gerlach or fitzapatrick gets more of montco which defeats the whole purpose of protecting r incumbents.

  9. Adam Lang says:

    “Chaka Fattah, the most liked public figure in Philadelphia”

    Really?

  10. Alex Wentz says:

    Are you kidding me about Brady?!?! He’s a paper tiger! The guy runs for mayor and comes in 4th place!! He only got 15% of the vote! Some “powerhouse”!
    And please, please God let the Republicans set up a Fattah vs. Schwartz fight? I’d love to see what the white suburban liberals do in that one!

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