Republicans tasked with redrawing the state’s congressional map continue to seek a balance between protecting potentially vulnerable incumbents and keeping currently safe seats out of reach for Democratic challengers, according to a report published by Roll Call today. Shira Toeplitz has the story, which begins like this:
“Republicans know they can’t afford to get greedy when they redraw the Pennsylvania Congressional map this time around.”
“The Keystone State GOP stretched the boundaries of its House districts beyond their limits a decade ago, producing a handful of competitive seats that have traded party hands in the wave elections of recent cycles.”
“Even though the Pennsylvania Legislature is not expected to consider a new Congressional map until the first couple of weeks of 2012, members of Congress are already tussling over and lobbying for the shape of their preferred districts.”
“Republicans’ foremost goal is to shore up the 12 House seats that they already control and to use the state’s single-seat loss to shrink the number of Democrats in the delegation from seven to six.”
Toeplitz’s sources tell her that Congressman Joe Pitts, the elder statesman among the Keystone State’s GOP contingent, has been reluctant to cede solidly Republican areas of his district to help out more vulnerable colleagues like Congressmen Jim Gerlach or Pat Meehan.
There’s more agreement on the other side of the state, where the current consensus seems to be that Democrats Jason Altmire and Mark Critz will find themselves in the same district come 2012, Toeplitz reports. Congressman Bill Shuster, whose own district would neighbor a hypothetical merger between Altmire and Critz, has taken an active role in shaping that area of the new congressional map.
Despite the increasingly likely scenario that they’ll share a district next year, Altmire told Toeplitz that he and Critz haven’t discussed how they’d handle the hybrid. “Mark and I are both well-aware of the rumors and the possibility that we will end up in the same district. We are friends and we are supportive of each other. We are not preparing to run against each other. We are not doing stuff in each other’s districts,” he said.