Pa. GOP to meet deadline in submitting new map in gerrymandering ruling

Pa. GOP to meet deadline in submitting new map in gerrymandering ruling

Pennsylvania GOP lawmakers are poised to meet the Friday deadline to submit a new congressional map after the state Supreme Court struck down the state’s current map in a gerrymandering case, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Drew Compton, chief of staff and counsel to state Senate president pro tempore Joe Scarnati (R), told the Journal that Republican lawmakers are planning to send the new maps over to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf later on Friday.

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Compton said that the new districts are more compact and try to refrain from dividing counties, towns and cities. He also noted that those drafting the new map took into account where incumbents reside as well as limiting the number of voters who get moved into new districts.

Once the new map is sent to Wolf, he will have until Feb. 15 to approve it. If Wolf fails to meet that deadline, then the state Supreme Court will take it over and be tasked with drawing a new map.

Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ruled on Jan. 22 that the state’s congressional lines are unconstitutional and imposed the Friday deadline for the GOP-controlled legislature to draw new lines.

Republicans requested a stay on the ruling, but the U.S. Supreme Court denied that request and kept the deadline for a new map intact.

It wasn’t until Wednesday — two days before the deadline for new maps — that the state Supreme Court issued its full opinion on the January ruling. The court argued that the current map violated the state’s constitution on elections by diluting Democratic votes.

The ruling has created uncertainty about what Pennsylvania's congressional districts will look like, months before the state's May primaries. Pennsylvania’s secretary of State pushed back the window for candidates to circulate nominating petitions, but so far there are no plans to delay the May 15 primary.

While it's unclear what the new map looks like or what will ultimately be approved, Democrats are expected to benefit as they eye half a dozen seats ahead of the 2018 midterms. The party needs to flip 24 seats in order to take back the House and the path runs through several of Pennsylvania’s suburban seats.

Political observers have highlighted several districts that could see the most significant changes, particularly those in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Those include the open seats left by GOP Reps. Pat MeehanPatrick (Pat) Leo MeehanMany authors of GOP tax law will not be returning to Congress Dem Scanlon wins House seat in Pennsylvania US athletics watchdog closes probe into GOP House hopeful MORE and Charlie DentCharles (Charlie) Wieder DentDem wins leave behind a more conservative GOP conference How Republicans who voted against ObamaCare repeal fared in midterms Democrat Susan Wild wins House race in Pennsylvania MORE, as well as Reps. Ryan CostelloRyan Anthony CostellloJuan Williams: Trump's hostile takeover of the GOP Dem wins leave behind a more conservative GOP conference How Republicans who voted against ObamaCare repeal fared in midterms MORE and Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. Fitzpatrick3 ways House Dems can fight climate change when sweeping policy is off the table Midterm results shake up national map House Dems can take on climate change — if they don’t get distracted by Trump MORE. All of those seats were previously targeted by national Democrats.