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Pennsylvania to get new congressional map

New lines will be drawn for the May 15 primary.

SOURCE: WIKIMEDIA
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The state Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the congressional maps are unconstitutional and ordered new lines to be drawn for the May 15 primary.

The map challenge was led by the League of Women Voters and Democrats in each of the 18 congressional districts. The AFL-CIO and Philadelphia Federation of Teachers supported the challenge.

The Court ordered the Republican-controlled legislature to draw new maps by Feb. 9. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf must accept the map by Feb. 15. If those deadlines are not met, then the Court will draw the map.

The maps must, the Court said, be “compact and contiguous” and not divide counties except where necessary to ensure equality of population.

Either way, the ruling favors Democrats. Republicans hold 12 of the 17 seats, with another GOP-leaning seat up in a March 13 special election.

A map drawn by the legislature that must be approved by Wolf would certainly give Democrats a chance to win more seats. The Democratic-controlled Court could come up with a plan even worse for the GOP.

At present, the Northeast is divided into two districts. Seventy percent of the Northeast is in the 13th Congressional District, with the rest in the 1st Congressional District.

Democrat Brendan Boyle represents the 13th, which is evenly divided with Montgomery County.

Democrat Bob Brady represents the 1st, which also includes South Philadelphia, the river wards, other parts of the city and portions of Delaware County.

Brady is facing primary challenges from Michele Lawrence, a minister, radio show host and CEO of a wealth and wellness company; former Traffic Court Judge Willie Singletary; Nina Ahmad, former deputy mayor and chairwoman of the local National Organization for Women; and political newcomer Casey McLeod.

Ahmad said, “Today’s Supreme Court decision is a victory for democracy. The maps were clearly drawn to favor Republicans and disenfranchise large swaths of the population. It’s disgusting that our current congressman, Bob Brady, rallied Democrats to support it. For that, he does not deserve to return to Congress, no matter how a fair map looks.”

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Former congresswoman Allyson Schwartz last week endorsed Maggie Borski in the Democratic primary in the 177th Legislative District.

“Now, more than ever, we need new voices at every level of government, and that’s one of the reasons I enthusiastically endorse Maggie Borski,” Schwartz said. “A native of Northeast Philadelphia, Maggie is a young woman who has answered the call to run for office in a state where women are woefully underrepresented in elected office. Maggie’s intelligence, passion and commitment to public service will be a great addition to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

“Maggie believes that education and health care are essential to building opportunity and economic security for the individuals and families in the 177th district. Having committed most of my life to ensuring a quality education for every child, and access to affordable, quality health care for all, particularly for children and seniors, I welcome Maggie’s focus on both public education and health coverage for Pennsylvanians.”

Borski, 24, a law student and daughter of former congressman Bob Borski, said, “I am honored to have Congresswoman Schwartz’s endorsement and support. She is a national expert in health policy, and I look forward to having her advice and guidance as I work in the Pennsylvania House to make sure every Pennsylvanian has access to quality, affordable health care. Working in Harrisburg on behalf of the families of the 177th, it will be important to work with leaders like Congresswoman Schwartz, who have accomplished so much for the people of Pennsylvania and for our nation.”

Borski is involved in a contested primary, as Republican Rep. John Taylor is not seeking another term.

Other Democrats running are Joe Hohenstein, an immigration lawyer who took almost 45 percent of the vote in 2016 against Taylor; union plasterer Sean Kilkenny; community activist Dan Martino; and Sean Patrick Wayland, who served eight years in the U.S. Army Reserve and spent time in Iraq in 2008.

Possible candidates are Tom Forkin, an aide to state Rep. Mike Driscoll and chairman of the 55th Ward Democratic Committee; and Harry Enggasser, a ward leader, aide to U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, two-time challenger to Taylor and president of the Bridesburg Civic Association.

Sean K. McMonagle, an aide to Councilman Mark Squilla, has been mentioned as a possible candidate.

Possible Republican candidates include Patty-Pat Kozlowski, a community activist, director of park stewardship at the city Department of Parks and Recreation and a former top aide to late Councilwoman Joan Krajewski; Pete Smith, a community activist from Tacony and Wharton School graduate; Chris Vogler, Republican leader of the 55th Ward; and Brian Caputo, a former aide to Councilman Brian O’Neill.

Some Republicans would like to see Forkin seek the GOP nod. ••

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