Gerrymandering in Pennsylvania could begin to die May 15, when voters go to the polls in districts whose boundaries were not drawn to favor candidates of whichever party held the majority in the legislature.
Since 2011, that’s been the Republicans, which is why the GOP holds all but six of the state’s 18 U.S. House seats, despite the fact that more voters in Pennsylvania are registered Democrats.
The road to changing that starts with this month’s primary, which will use congressional district lines drawn by the state Supreme Court after Democrats and Republicans in the legislature could not agree on a fair process to draw new boundaries. Lines will likely be redrawn again after the 2020 census.
Perhaps benefiting most from the court’s intervention are residents of Montgomery County, who were split up among the Second, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and 13th Districts in the gerrymandered map imposed by Republicans. The new map — which so far has escaped challenges by the GOP, including an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court — puts most of the county in a reconfigured Fourth District.
The significance of that milestone is why the Inquirer, which no longer endorses in every U.S. House race, chose to do so with the Fourth District.
Two expected Democratic candidates aren’t running. U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, who represents much of the county now as the 13th District congressman, is instead running in the new Second District, which includes his Northeast Philadelphia home. State Sen. Daylin Leach ended his bid for Congress amid sexual-harassment allegations.
That leaves some very familiar names vying to run against stock analyst Dan David, who is unopposed for the GOP nomination. The Democratic candidates are State Rep. Madeleine Dean, Ceasefire PA executive director Shira Goodman, and former state representative and congressman Joe Hoeffel.
Hoeffel’s past legislative experience and Goodman’s proven effectiveness as a national leader for sensible gun laws make them both formidable and worthy candidates. But the person who seems better prepared to not only represent Pennsylvanians but counter a presidency that spouts unity while further dividing Americans is MADELEINE DEAN.
Elected to the legislature in 2012, Dean, 58, ended a campaign for lieutenant governor to run for Congress. That’s a better place for her than walking in a governor’s shadow. She also has been a vocal advocate of gun control and is a founder of PA SAFE, a caucus of state legislators and firearm safety advocates. She wants more than lip service paid to the opioid epidemic, noting President Trump did little after declaring it a public health emergency.
Pennsylvania hasn’t had a woman in Congress since Allyson Schwartz left it in 2015. Dean says she has never asked anyone to vote for her because she is a woman, but acknowledges her election would be significant. “We are in this pickle because we have too many of the same type of person representing a diverse population,” she said at a candidates’ forum.
Dean has been an energetic public advocate ever since she became a committee woman at age 18. She is well-prepared to serve in Congress. The first step is winning the Democratic primary, and she should.