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PoliticsPA’s 12/16 Ups & Downs: Redistricting Edition

All week, we’ve talked about the implications of congressional legislative redistricting. There are literally 272+ lawmakers who could get ups or downs based solely on their new districts. We’re going to try to dig a bit deeper for the Ups & Downs this week.

Democrats. It would be easy enough to give Pa. Democrats a down for the innate damage done their 2012 chances by the new state and congressional maps. But its the unforced errors that really defined their week – the little things they did to inoculate the GOP plan from criticism. First, Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny) voted for the state legislative plan. Then, Sen. Tina Tartaglione (D-Phila) cast the tie-breaking committee vote for the GOP’s congressional map. Finally, Dems unveiled their own congressional map – which was just as gerrymandered as the Republican version!

Congressional redistricting process. Most transparent in history? Please. That’s like bragging about the best-smelling dump. To the GOP (and Sen. McIlhinney): you have majorities in the House and Senate. There are no laws against gerrymandering. You can do whatever you want and no one can stop you. But please, don’t insult our intelligence by suggesting these lines are motivated by anything other than partisan gain.

Republicans. The GOP took the results of a fluke election in 2010 (in fairness, one that followed the fluke election of 2008), and permanently codified it in these new districts. Barring some huge scandal, there is no way that Democrats retake the Pa. House, Pa. Senate, or more than 1, maybe 2 congressional seats in 2012 (and heck, maybe Dems lose a seat).

Bill Shuster. The Blair County congressman emerged as the team player of the Pa. delegation this week when his district went from an R+17 down to an R+10. Still a safe seat, but not beyond reach in a wave year. He absorbed Democratic areas in Fayette, Greene and Washington County. If he wasn’t Rep. Tim Murphy’s best friend before, he should be now.

Mark Critz. One of the seriously considered congressional plans would have dipped the Altmire-Critz district down into Greene and Fayette counties – Critz country. Instead, he’ll be introducing himself to his would-be new constituents, who comprise 71 percent of the re-formed 12th. That said, part of that 71 percent is liberals and labor groups who know Jason Altmire very well – and that might just help Critz. He got a head start this week with an endorsement from the AFL-CIO’s (and Beaver County’s) Bill George.

Pat Toomey. We loved The Hill’s analysis of this one. Rep. Allyson Schwartz’s district is now a safe D seat, meaning she’s free to keep raising money and her profile in preparation for a possible challenge to Toomey in 2016.

Jack Stollsteimer. On Tuesday afternoon, it made perfect sense that any Democrat would want to avoid a matchup with Pat Meehan in his new mega-mandered district. But Stollsteimer, a DCCC recruit, was ahead of the curve. He had decided by Sunday that he was going to run for Auditor General instead.

Harrisburg Patriot-News. We have one non-redistricting entry this week. The paper’s coverage of the Penn State sex abuse scandal has been outstanding: the mid-sized, regional newspaper went toe-to-toe with national outlets, and came out on top. This week it won David Newhouse the National Press Foundation’s Editor of the Year award.


Harrisburg Republicans Other Than the Map-Drawers. OK, one more non-redistricting entry. It’s been a busy week. This week saw Marcellus legislation sputter – again. This year’s top legislative priority is going to have to wait until 2012. And what a bad week for the school choice crowd. They couldn’t whip enough GOP votes in the House even for charters/EITC, let alone vouchers.

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