Pennsylvania Supreme Court To Decide If State Congressional District Map Is A Partisan Gerrymander

KEYSTONE CROSSROADS - Pennsylvania’s congressional district map is often considered one of the most gerrymandered in the United States, but is it unconstitutional? And if so, how do you fix it? Those are the central questions the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will weigh when hearing oral arguments on Wednesday in a lawsuit that has the potential to change the state’s political landscape. The case was initiated by 18 voters, all Democrats, and the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania. Plaintiffs claim Republican lawmakers, who drew the congressional map, violated their state constitutional rights, and are requesting the court to order the state legislature to draw a new map before the primary elections in May.

Federal Judges Uphold PA’s Congressional Map In Gerrymandering Case

 

KEYSTONE CROSSROADS - A panel of federal judges upheld Pennsylvania’s congressional district map as constitutional in a 2-1 split decision on Wednesday. In the majority decision, Chief Judge D. Brooks Smith ruled that the plaintiffs’ claim is a political question inappropriate for the courts. “The structural change Plaintiffs seek must come from the political branches or the political process itself, not the courts,” wrote Smith. In the case, a group of about 20 Pennsylvania voters from around the state claimed lawmakers intentionally rigged the map to favor Republicans over Democrats in an effort they believe violated the U.S. Constitution. Their argument hinged on a novel interpretation of the Elections Clause, which grants state legislatures the power to set rules regarding the time, place, and manner of congressional elections.

Redistricting Reformers Make Last Ditch Arguments Ahead of PA Supreme Court Proceedings

 

KEYSTONE CROSSROADS - Next week, the state Supreme Court will hear a lawsuit claiming Pennsylvania’s congressional map is an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. Top state Democrats chimed in Wednesday in an attempt to sway the court in favor of the plaintiffs. In a press conference held in the capitol, Lt. Gov. Mike Stack offered an alternative map he referred to as the “Stack map.”

It wasn’t drawn by Stack, though. Instead, it’s the first in a series of 1,000 prototypes generated by Jowei Chen, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota who testified earlier in the case, during proceedings in Commonwealth Court nearly a month ago. “There were a number of possible maps that could meet legitimate districting goals: creating compact districts and respecting political subdivisions.

GOP Has Short List Of Potential Candidates For Governor

ALBANY (WSKG) - The 2018 election season is beginning, but state Republicans are still trying to settle on a strong candidate to challenge Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has said he wants to seek a third term. Republican State Party Chair Ed Cox said the GOP will have a “good,” qualified and viable candidate. Cox denied a report in Politico New York that said Republicans are “in a panic” over the lack of a well-known challenger after millionaire businessman Harry Wilson decided against a race. The GOP chair spoke after spending Monday interviewing announced and potential candidates. Among them were Assembly Republican Minority Leader Brian Kolb, who has already announced his candidacy, and Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, who has expressed an interest in a race.

Endorsements Trickling In For PA’s Gubernatorial Hopefuls

HARRISBURG (WSKG) -- The state Republican Party is starting its monthlong series of meetings with candidates for governor and other top offices to decide who it will endorse next month. It's still anyone's guess who the party will back, or even whether members will tap a gubernatorial candidate at all. In the meantime, endorsements are rolling in from other organizations across the state. The four GOP candidates--state Senator Scott Wagner of York County and House Speaker Mike Turzai, health care systems consultant Paul Mango, and attorney Laura Ellsworth, all from the Pittsburgh suburbs--strike similar, conservative tones on issues virtually across the board. But Wagner, who also owns a trash-hauling company, has begun to distinguish himself in terms of endorsements.

New York’s Green Party Offers Its Own ‘State Of The State’

SYRACUSE (WRVO) - The Green Party in New York offered up its own State of State address last week, with a series of ideas the party says will push the state forward. Howie Hawkins, a two-time gubernatorial candidate for the Green Party, says there are things his party liked in Gov. Cuomo’s list of 2018 legislative priorities, but there's not enough to pull them on board. “He’s socially progressive but economically, he’s pretty conservative,” said Hawkins. “And the system isn’t changing. And when you get to issues like poverty and the struggles of middle income people, he offers nothing.”

Hawkins says Cuomo’s 2018 legislative agenda doesn’t go far enough on several fronts, including promoting clean energy and  reforming public campaign financing.  And as far as a multi-billion dollar budget deficit the state faces,  Hawkins says the answer is easy.

PA Likely “Ground Zero” In November Congressional Elections

HOLLIDAYSBURG (WSKG) -- Congressman Bill Shuster, a southwestern Pennsylvania Republican, has announced he's not seeking reelection after 17 years in office. His seat now joins a lengthening list of vacancies that could help make Pennsylvania one of the most important states in November's congressional elections. With Shuster's departure, four of the commonwealth's 13 Republican-held seats stand open. The others belong to midstate moderate Charlie Dent, who's retiring; Hazelton conservative Lou Barletta, who's running for US Senate; and Tim Murphy, who left his suburban Pittsburgh seat last year amid a scandal. Murphy will be replaced in a special election on March 13.

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Day Two In PA’s Gerrymandering Trial Delves Deep Into Congressional Map

KEYSTONE CROSSROADS - The gerrymandering case that could force a new congressional map continued Tuesday in Harrisburg. Eighteen Democrats are suing, alleging Pennsylvania’s map – considered the nation’s most gerrymandered, by some measures – was drawn unfairly by state GOP leaders to advantage Republicans. So far, the minutiae of mapmaking have dominated testimony. The plaintiff’s first expert witness Jowei Chen has testified that partisan concerns trumped best practices for redistricting based on 1,000 computer-generated alternatives to the state’s current map. But one of his findings might overlap with counter arguments from the defense’s expert taking the stand later this week.

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Assembly GOP Leader Says He’ll Run For New York Governor

ALBANY (WSKG) - There’s now one official candidate running for governor of New York in 2018, and that’s the Assembly’s Republican leader Brian Kolb. He announced in a video released Tuesday. Kolb, who’s been an Assembly member since 2000, is also a businessman. He’s the founder and past President of two companies in the Rochester area, where he grew up.  Kolb says he’d draw on the experiences of both worlds if he were to lead the state. He says he’s been traveling and meeting with New Yorkers, and asking them whether or not state government is working for them.