Trump urges Pa. Republicans to fight new congressional districts
A Tuesday-morning tweet from President Donald Trump urged Pennsylvania Republicans to fight the new congressional district map imposed by the state Supreme Court and seemed to support the “original” map the Democratic-majority court had ruled was unconstitutionally gerrymandered in favor of Republicans.
“Hope Republicans in the Great State of Pennsylvania challenge the new ‘pushed’ Congressional Map, all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary,” Trump tweeted.
Republicans have called the new 18-district map gerrymandered in favor of Democrats, and House Speaker Mike Turzai vowed “further action in federal court.” A statement from Republican Party Chairman Val DiGiorgio said the court had violated the separation of powers by usurping the Legislature’s role in drawing district lines.
The U.S. Supreme Court had previously turned down an emergency request from state Republicans to stop the redistricting, which came just weeks before candidates could start running for the May 2018 primary. The highest federal court typically does not review state court decisions based on a state’s constitution.
The court had given legislators less than a month to come up with new maps that would pass the Legislature and get Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature, or else the court would step in with maps of its own based on evidence presented over the course of the case brought by the League of Women Voters, which had submitted hundreds of possible maps resulting in a 9-9 split or an 8-10 split favoring Republicans.
Trump’s tweet also seemed to favor going back to the old congressional map, saying, “Your Original was correct!” But many experts and a 4-3 majority on the Supreme Court said the old map, which produced contorted shapes like the one dubbed “Goofy kicking Donald Duck,” was unconstitutional in the way it skewed results in Republicans’ favor. Democrats on the court outnumber Republicans 5-2.
Trump tweeted about the map again on Saturday calling the redrawn election lines “very unfair to Republicans and to our country as a whole.”
Democrat judges have totally redrawn election lines in the great State of Pennsylvania. @FoxNews . This is very unfair to Republicans and to our country as a whole. Must be appealed to the United States Supreme Court ASAP!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2018
Some analyses showed the new map would have eight or nine districts where Democrats could win Congressional seats, as opposed to the five of 18 they hold under the old map in place since 2011.
Democrats hold a slight edge in registered voters in the state, all the statewide row offices are held by Democrats, and the two Senate seats are split between Democrat Bob Casey and Republican Pat Toomey.
Matthew Santoni is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6660, email@example.com, or on Twitter @msantoni. Staff writer Michael DiVittorio contributed to this story.