The most likely outcome of the GOP’s redistricting efforts in Pennsylvania appears to be combining the districts of Reps. Jason Altmire and Mark Critz, according to a Washington Post analysis published today.
The gambit makes sense, the Post’s Aaron Blake writes, because the Pittsburgh area from which Altmire and Critz hail has seen a more pronounced population loss than other parts of the state over the last decade. Meanwhile, shifting Scranton to Rep. Tim Holden’s district will shore up the veteran Democrat’s hold on PA-17, but it will also give freshman Rep. Lou Barletta much needed breathing room in PA-11.
“Republicans draw together Altmire’s 4th district and Critz’s 12th district by combining the incumbents’ homes in the northern Pittsburgh suburbs and Johnstown, respectively. Altmire’s district remains largely the same except for extending an arm out east to Johnstown. The rest of Critz’s district gets divided between three GOP districts — Rep. Glenn Thompson’s (R-Pa.) 5th district, Rep. Bill Shuster’s 9th (R-Pa.), and Rep. Tim Murphy’s (R-Pa.) 18th,” Blake writes. His piece is the latest in the Post’s occasional series dissecting the redistricting process in key states.
The conflict as Blake casts it is whether the Keystone State GOP should focus on shoring up Barletta and his Republican colleagues from the Southeastern part of the state, or attempting to significantly weaken Altmire, Critz and Holden in one shot. Veteran consultant Chris Nicholas, for one, was definitive: “There’s no reason why, at the federal level, we can’t do a lot of these things,” Nicholas said. “I reject the notion that you can only pick one.”
More from Blake’s analysis:
Pennsylvania Republicans got greedy a decade ago when they drew new congressional districts — and it came back to bite them as they watched a number of GOP-held seat go Democratic between 2002 and 2010.
The question is, will they be so aggressive again?
“Nobody has expressed any desire to get greedy,” said one Republican close to the state’s redistricting process. “2001 taught us a good lesson: You draw these districts marginally and you open yourself up to changing demographics.”