Things changed. Significantly. It might no longer be news to you that the state's Supreme Court officially issued this map Monday, seeking to correct and null partisan gerrymandering within the Republican-drawn congressional map we have come to know. Of the House of Representatives' 18 seats representing Pennsylvania, the outgoing map produced 13 Republicans and 5 Democrats, despite the fact that the 2016 election saw President Trump winning 12, and Hillary Clinton winning 6 of such districts.
The new, Court-drawn map removes 1,100 miles of district borders, aiding Democrats by now producing ten districts that voted for the President, and eight that had voted for his opponent (1). Change is noticeable everywhere, new districts appearing much less 'snaky,' the visually-awkward quality largely indicative of partisanship in a state's districting process. Not only are district boundaries of noticeable change, but even district numbers have been reassigned. The outgoing map was rather difficult to trace, assigning districts the first and second congressional districts to Philadelphia, before assigning the third and fifth to the state's Northwestern portion, fourth to York and Adams counties, while district 6 through 18 seem to radiate from the Philadelphia metropolitan area towards Pittsburgh, with plenty of non-sequence in its path. The new map, going into effect this election cycle, is much more forgiving in organization. District 1 is now the familiar Bucks County district, continuing to borrow municipalities from Montgomery, who is largely represented within the fourth district. Districts 2, 3, and 5 divide Philadelphia, with the latter also covering Delaware County. Districts now sequence more rationally from Philadelphia and its suburban counties, making their way westward before culminating at District 18 in Pittsburgh. Philadelphia's suburban districts have lost their serpentine characters, which were thought to divide democratic strongholds in favor of GOP votes.
What is more relevant to us, residents of Centre County, is the we no longer anchor PA-5 blue at its southeastern corner. The 5th Congressional District stretched from Happy Valley to eastern Erie County, encompassing much of the western I-80 corridor along its way. Instead, Centre County is now among PA-12 and PA-15, split to the north and west of campus. Residents of Park Forest Village, Toftrees, Benner Township, and Bellefonte now reside in District 15, together with many of the counties of the former 5th District. Campus, along with the rest of the borough, Lemont, Boalsburg, Circleville and Pine Grove Mills have now been separated into PA-12, joining Williamsport, Lewisburg, and many of the counties of the former 10th district. Clinton County (Lock Haven) and Potter County have also been drawn into PA-12 from the former 5th district.
The new district lines cut right through Centre County. PA-15 (to the north and west of campus) incorporates Park Forest Village, Port Matilda, Toftrees, Benner Township and the vicinity of the State College Airport, Pleasant Gap, Bellefonte, Milesburg, and Phillipsburg. PA-12 (campus, south and east of campus) incorporates the borough of State College, College Township (Houserville and Lemont), Circleville, Pine Grove Mills, Boalsburg, the vicinity of the Nittany Mall, and Centre Hall. University Park campus is now in the same congressional district as Lock Haven University and Bucknell University in Lewisburg (the latter formerly of PA-10).
The much anticipated, court-ordered, map has predictable implications on primary races that had already been underway. Marc Friedenberg, the Penn State professor who had been campaigning for the Democratic nomination to challenge Glenn Thompson for the PA-5 seat, has already come out and addressed he has been redistricted, eager to now challenge Tom Marino for the new PA-12 seat instead.
"Even though I was looking forward to winning the fight against Glenn Thompson, the incumbent in the redrawn 12th is Tom Marino, who is every bit the swamp-dwelling sellout that Thompson is. You may remember Tom Marino from one of my campaign’s first issue statements (https://marcforpa.com/2017/10/18/americas-opioid-crisis/). He withdrew his nomination as the nation’s top drug czar because it turned out he was one of the nation’s top drug pushers, blocking the DEA from stopping the flow of addictive opioid painkillers into Pennsylvania in exchange for a $100,000 bribe from the pharmaceutical industry."
Kerith Strano Taylor announced that she has been redistricted into PA-15, and will continue her fight against congressman Glenn Thompson.
"I am proud to be running in the new 15th US Congressional District. While the number may be different, and some of the counties are new, my commitment and dedication to serving rural Pennsylvanians in Congress remains the same.
In the end, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court selected a map that they felt fairly benefited the most Pennsylvanians. Today's redistricting does not change my mission to bring rural Pennsylvanians a voice, and a vote, at the table."
SEE ALSO -
1. Ingraham, Christopher. “Analysis | New Pennsylvania Congressional Map Erases 1,100 Miles of District Borders.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 20 Feb. 2018, www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/02/20/new-pennsylvania-congressional-map-erases-1100-miles-of-district-borders/?utm_term=.cce0e4e72464.
Penn State College