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 firstname.lastname@example.org