We were wondering when they were coming. After a long period where Pennsylvania was one of the only key states to not propose any congressional maps, we got two in the space of a couple hours. One was officially proposed by the State House, who say they “followed comments by citizens on how they want to see districts drawn”.
A Senate proposed map was then leaked by Dave Wasserman only hours later. Both do have some arguable issues, but the State Senate map is far more fascinating to me. Unlike the GOP-only proposed map in the House, the Senate map has backing specifically from Philly-based State Senator Sharif Street, a Democrat.
How Street Benefits
In an interview with the Penn Capital Star, Street was commented as saying this map preserves and grows minority interests in the state. The map does do this. It does not split Pittsburgh, as some Democratic strategists have suggested, instead keeping the city whole. Street argues this increases the likelihood of that now-open seat electing Summer Lee, a black State Representative to replace outgoing incumbent Mike Doyle.
The map also creates a new majority-minority district in Philadelphia. It completes this by drawing the more white and swingier parts into a Bucks County-based district. This would hurt current PA-02 Rep Brendan Boyle, who would be put into a no-win situation.
He would either have to run on his progressive positions he’s taken in a swing district dominated by land favoring moderate Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, or he would have to try in the new second, where he lost his old base of primary voters. All this in the end, arguably benefits Street, who under this draft, would live in the new second district. It seems to almost be perfectly built for him to get a promotion.
In fact, it would allow Street to drop down from the US Senate race he’s currently in. This new seat allows him to still get that shiny new promotion too DC if he’d want to.
Can it Work?
The biggest question surrounding this map is whether it would even pass the strong eye of Governor Tom Wolf. Wolf outlined his own parameters for the new map, sticking by those claims in a statement yesterday.
However, if Street is to be believed, this map, or a future version, may have a supermajority in the Senate. Street, in that same interview, said he had discussed this draft with 16 of his fellow Democratic senators. If even five of those fellow senators joined Street and Republicans, it would make the Senate map veto-proof. Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa also voiced his approval in a statement, which gives more strength to the theory that a deal map is coming.
Street did also stress that this map is still a draft. If he is correct, other negations are occurring before a true proposal is submitted. Street even criticized Dave Wasserman for leaking the map without proper context. This is still a process and the State Senate has taken a step forward with working together, unlike the House GOPs messy and poor map attempt. But we need to let the process happen. We can all make final calls once a true proposal from the Senate is put forth. For now, Pennsylvania legislators have a month and a half to get a deal done. Or the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will draw the maps again.