Redistricting Debacle Keeps House Seat in Northeast Philly; York Republicans Drop Out
Last week, we noted that Pennsylvania’s 169th District in the state House was really up for grabs—candidates for the seat were separated by more than 100 miles of Pennsyltucky. Now, three of the York, PA candidates for the 169th have dropped out of the race because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has kept the district in Philly. And if that doesn’t make any sense, keep reading. We’d love to explain it to you!
Former Speaker Dennis O’Brien had vacated his 169th District seat last year after winning one of two Republican at-Large seats on Philadelphia City Council. That was good for him, because the re-aligning of the state population and Republican control of the state House moved the seat 100 miles west, to York. Though he was once the PA House Speaker, state Republicans and O’Brien had been at odds over his oft-moderate and liberal positions on issues.
So officials and legislators in Harrisburg approved a new House map which, among other things, eliminated O’Brien’s 169th District seat, or, rather, moved it out of Philly.
Then Democrats then began weeping over the map as a whole, since it hurt their chances of taking back the General Assembly. It didn’t seem like too big a deal at the time; the opposing party has and will always complain about a redistricted map crafted by the other side. Partisan whiners are never taken seriously, right?
Wrong. The PA Supreme Court took a look at the map and decided it was no good, too. They said the populations of the House districts were too often too far above or below the goal of about 63,000 people per district. Earlier this month, a federal judge agreed. The endgame (for now): Use the 2001 district map until legislators begin acting like adults and get a fair and equally-proportioned map approved. In the meantime, candidates had lined up to take the 169th seat. They come from near and far. Literally. Philadelphia and York. As of today, the York candidates, Leroy E. Wentz and Allan R. Case, have withdrawn from the race since a new map won’t be done in time for the April 24 primary.
Which leaves just three Northeast Philly candidates in the race: Republicans David Kralle and John McCann; and Democrat Ed Neilson, the latter of whom is a former Rendell Administration official and political director for the city electricians union. That’s what happens when you get greedy.