Last week, just two Republican members of the 253 members of the General Assembly sent the governor a map that is just as gerrymandered, if not more, than the last one. The Republican map was submitted without any input from Democratic lawmakers or the public. Despite being court-ordered not to do so, the map would maintain the same partisan advantage for Republicans as the current map that was found unconstitutional.
On the other hand, Gov. Wolf has held nonpartisan listening sessions and solicited online comments as a part of his continued effort to hear from Pennsylvanians on gerrymandering and congressional redistricting. He also hired a team of experts with extensive experience in redistricting to review any submitted maps.
Gov. Wolf has shown he is committed to listening to the will of Pennsylvanians and he has promised to do everything he can to ensure that Pennsylvanians are fairly represented. That’s why Gov. Wolf rightfully rejected this Republican map, saying, “Partisan gerrymandering weakens citizen power, promotes gridlock and stifles meaningful reform.”
It is clear why Gov. Wolf rejected this map. Nonpartisan analysts agree that the map steers the advantage to solely one political party: the Republicans who made it.
Princeton’s gerrymandering expert Sam Wang said, “It appears that Republicans are not dealing in good faith with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s order,” and New York Times data reporter Nate Cohn said, “At just about every opportunity, the GOP map makes subtle (and occasionally not so subtle) choices that add up to a fairly considerable advantage…”
Let’s review just how partisan and gerrymandered this map is. This map protects vulnerable Republicans by shifting two top-tier Democratic congressional candidates out of their current districts while keeping all Republican incumbents in their current districts.
In the case of the 18th District special election, Conor Lamb could be elected in a few weeks only to find himself no longer living in that district. Instead, Lamb would have to compete in the same district as Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle.
The plan includes the same unnecessary and intentional splitting, especially in more Democratic areas; that includes diluting Montgomery County’s votes by splitting it into four separate districts and chopping up the city of Wilkes-Barre. Republicans made a conscious decision to “crack” cities like Reading and Erie by carving them into more Republican districts.
So let’s call this what it is: The Republican map is a partisan, gerrymandered mess. But that’s not stopping Republicans from doing everything they can to protect their unconstitutional electoral advantage in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Val DiGiorgio recently penned an op-ed about gerrymandering and upholding the rule of law. This piece rings especially hollow considering that Republicans submitted a map they knew was just as unconstitutional as their old map and that Republicans are attempting to impeach five Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices to prevent the redistricting process from finally being fair. Once again, Republican lawmakers are trying rig the system and take away the voice of Pennsylvanians for their own benefit.
Pennsylvanians have had enough of Republicans’ continued unfair attempts to load the dice on this issue. They are refusing to give all citizens the equal voice in government representation that they deserve and that is required under our Constitution. And Pennsylvanians won’t forget that this November when they head to the polls.
Jack Hanna is chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.