Northeast Times

Redistricting costs NE a pair of congressmen

Con­gress­wo­man Allyson Schwartz seen at the Kit­chen Bar in Abing­ton on Novem­ber 2 sur­roun­ded by her ded­ic­ated staff work­ers.

What do people in Swarth­more have in com­mon with folks from East Tor­res­dale?

All will be res­id­ents of the 1st Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict un­der bound­ar­ies ap­proved last week.

Every 10 years, fol­low­ing the re­lease of census data, states must re­draw their con­gres­sion­al bound­ar­ies.

At present, Pennsylvania has 19 mem­bers of the U.S. House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives. There are 12 Re­pub­lic­ans and sev­en Demo­crats.

Pennsylvania’s pop­u­la­tion grew in the last dec­ade, but not as fast as the rest of the coun­try. Thus, the state lost one House seat.

The GOP con­trols the state Sen­ate and House, and Gov. Tom Corbett is a Re­pub­lic­an, so the party has total say in what the dis­tricts will look like.

There was pop­u­la­tion loss in west­ern Pennsylvania, so Re­pub­lic­ans com­bined the dis­tricts of Demo­crat­ic Reps. Jason Alt­mire and Mark Critz. Those two will face off in April’s primary, and the win­ner will face a tough chal­lenge from a Re­pub­lic­an in the gen­er­al elec­tion.

Alt­mire lob­bied for pas­sage of the bound­ar­ies be­cause al­most two-thirds of the merged dis­trict con­sists of his cur­rent con­stitu­ents.

The state’s oth­er five Demo­crat­ic seats re­main safe for that party.

Re­pub­lic­ans strengthened their five fresh­men mem­bers and a couple of oth­er swing dis­tricts.

So, where does that leave the North­east?

Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick’s 8th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict will lose its di­vi­sions in the Far North­east and a heav­ily Demo­crat­ic area in east­ern Mont­gomery County. He’ll con­tin­ue to rep­res­ent all of Bucks County while adding areas of up­per Mont­gomery County.

Demo­crat­ic Rep. Chaka Fat­tah’s 2nd dis­trict will lose its North­east di­vi­sions in Lawndale, Cres­centville, Sum­mer­dale, North­wood and Burholme.

For the next 10 years, all res­id­ents of the North­east will be in the 1st and 13th con­gres­sion­al dis­tricts. Over­all, both dis­tricts con­sist of about 706,000 res­id­ents.

Demo­crat­ic Rep. Bob Brady’s 1st dis­trict, for the last 10 years, has in­cluded Frank­ford, Ox­ford Circle and Castor Gar­dens in ad­di­tion to its base in South and South­w­est Phil­adelphia and Delaware County. Like Fat­tah, he’s kept a low pub­lic pro­file in the North­east.

Brady’s cur­rent dis­trict is over­whelm­ingly Demo­crat­ic, with his only real chance of los­ing be­ing in the primary. His new dis­trict ap­pears even more to his lik­ing.

Brady, the power­ful chair­man of the Demo­crat­ic City Com­mit­tee, muscled his way in­to ter­rit­ory cur­rently rep­res­en­ted by Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-13th dist.). He’ll now rep­res­ent the en­tire North Delaware Av­en­ue wa­ter­front and the neigh­bor­hoods of Port Rich­mond, Brides­burg, Wissi­nom­ing, Ta­cony, Holmes­burg and East Tor­res­dale by tak­ing the 41st, 45th and 65th wards from Schwartz.

In ad­di­tion, he’ll rep­res­ent 28 of the 29 di­vi­sions in the West May­fair-based 55th Ward.

In all, Schwartz will rep­res­ent 70 per­cent of the North­east. She picked up Fitzpatrick’s ter­rit­ory in the North­east and Mont­gomery County.

Also, Schwartz will rep­res­ent the 42nd Ward and most of the 61st Ward, which con­sist of Ol­ney and Felton­ville.

Schwartz will soon have to find a new dis­trict of­fice. Her cur­rent of­fice, at 7219 Frank­ford Ave., will be loc­ated in Brady’s dis­trict.

The ad­di­tion of some over­whelm­ingly Demo­crat­ic wards in the 13th dis­trict could give a Phil­adelphi­an the edge over a can­did­ate from Mont­gomery County if Schwartz leaves Con­gress. There’s talk she could chal­lenge fresh­man Re­pub­lic­an U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey in 2016.

The Pennsylvania Sen­ate passed the bill 26-24. Sens. Tina Tartagli­one (D-2nd dist.), Shir­ley Kit­chen (D-3rd dist.) and Mike Stack (D-5th dist.) voted against it, though Tartagli­one provided the tiebreak­ing vote to move the meas­ure out of the State Gov­ern­ment Com­mit­tee.

The House passed the bill 136-61, with 38 Demo­crats vot­ing in fa­vor.

Loc­ally, it was sup­por­ted by Reps. Tom Murt (R-152nd dist.), John Sabat­ina Jr. (D-174th dist.), John Taylor (R-177th dist.) and Mark Co­hen (D-202nd dist.). It was op­posed by Reps. Larry Curry (D-154th dist.), Brendan Boyle (D-170th dist.), Kev­in Boyle (D-172nd dist.), Mike McGee­han (D-173rd dist.) Tony Payton (D-179th dist.) and Dwight Evans (D-203rd dist.). Rep. Den­nis O’Bri­en (R-169th dist.), who’ll be join­ing City Coun­cil on Monday, did not vote. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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