The maps reworked the state’s 18 congressional districts, including the one that encompasses all of Bucks County and a portion of Montgomery County.
Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick will continue to serve the current Eighth Congressional District, but the change will happen early next year following the general election.
The maps were redrawn by Stanford Law School professor Nathaniel Persily following a January order from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that stated the map adopted in 2011 was gerrymandered.
“The Court finds as matter of law that the Congressional Redistricting Act of 2011 clearly, plainly, and palpably violates the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and on that sole basis, we hereby strike it as unconstitutional,” the court order reads.
The new map chosen by the state Supreme Court could be challenged in the courts.
The new First Congressional District includes all Bucks County and switches the portion of Montgomery County included in it. In Montgomery County, the district still covers Hatfield, Souderton and Telford but moves a bit south. The new district picks up a portion of Horsham and Montgomery Township, while losing Green Lane and Sumneytown.
In the state Supreme Court’s opinion issued Monday, they noted that Persily’s “remedial map” took into account the various other potentials submitted last week by Democrats and Republicans. In those rejected maps, the current Eighth Congressional District could have lost a portion of Lower Bucks County or been extended into the Lehigh Valley.
“I applaud the court for their decision, and I respect their effort to remedy Pennsylvania’s unfair and unequal congressional elections,” Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement.
The chairman of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, Val DiGiorgio, was not thrilled with the map.
“One can only conclude the Dems have done with their maps the very thing they sought to redress with their lawsuit – packing and cracking voters for partisan gain,” DiGiorgio tweeted.
Here’s how the candidates running for the new First Congressional District reacted:
Steve Bacher, Democrat:
“I’m grateful that the people of Pennsylvania will have fairer districts to vote in going forward. This is a win for democracy. The extremist Republicans have realized that they can’t get what they want through honest, fair elections, so they have resorted to buying elections, voter suppression and gerrymandering. Next we need a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United, and universal early voting to make voting easier for everyone.”
Rachel Reddick, Democrat:
“The final congressional map released today is a massive win for all Pennsylvanians who believe in fair districts. The former map had some of the worst examples of gerrymandering in the country, and I applaud the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and Governor Wolf for ensuring another election didn’t take place under the old, unconstitutional district lines. We look forward to meeting with residents across the new first district over the coming months and representing them in Washington starting next January.”
Valerie Mihalek, Republican:
“While we appreciate the goal of having the fairest and most impartial elections possible, the PA Supreme Court’s decision so late in the Congressional election cycle has added confusion to the residents of PA. Now this new map, proposed by the Supreme Court, where many districts are re-named, will further that confusion and potentially have the effect of disenfranchising voters since they may not be sure what district they now reside it. Here in PA’s 8th, we now become the 1st district which in and of itself can be confusing. If the court felt so strongly about ensuring equal representation in PA, perhaps they should have waited until after the election to institute a new map since doing so at this point in the election cycle seems to be hurting more than helping the political process and PA voters.”
Dean Malik, Republican:
We believe the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, by changing the congressional map, has egregiously violated separation of powers, and has done so in an overtly political way. Regardless, this change in the district will not affect our grass roots campaign. We are sorry to loose good friends in the parts of Montgomery County that have been removed, but our support is strong and continually growing.
Fitzpatrick and Democratic candidate Scott Wallace did not issue comment on the new district.
Editor’s Note: Publisher/Editor Tom Sofield’s father, Chris, is the campaign manager for Republican Dean Malik’s 2018 bid for congress.