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Redistricting alters plans for House hopeful

Cody Knotts likely will run for the state House next year, he’s just not sure against whom.

Knotts, a Blaine Township Republican who mounted a challenge in 2000 against state Rep. Leo Trich, expected to challenge state Rep. Tim Solobay, a Canonsburg Democrat, in next year’s election.

Trich, a North Franklin Democrat, announced his retirement from the House earlier this year, allowing his seat to be carved up – one of three lost in western Pennsylvania during redistricting.

But while preliminary maps of legislative districts in Washington County put Knotts, who earned 42 percent of the vote in the 2000 race, in Solobay’s district, final maps were further tweaked to rejoin some municipalities split in preliminary maps.

As a result, Knotts finds himself in the district of state Rep. Peter Daley, a California Democrat whose district stretches from the mid-Mon Valley to Uniontown. Meanwhile, state Rep. Vic Lescovitz, a Midway Democrat, finds his district extending into Allegheny County for the first time in his 20 years as a legislator.

Knotts concedes it would be difficult for him to just get on the ballot in Daley’s district because of its heavy percentage of registered Democrats.

“(The Legislature) went out of their way to make it hard for me,” Knotts said.

As a result, Knotts is thinking seriously about moving into Washington – Solobay’s district – to run against him next year.

“We will probably not be running against Pete Daley,” Knotts said.

Knotts, who doesn’t own a home, said his family is from Washington. He expects to make a decision before the end of the year.

Solobay said the final changes in the map probably were made in the name of rejoining split municipalities. He said he wasn’t sure Knotts would be constitutionally permitted to run for the Legislature next year if he moves into the district because of residency requirements.

The finalized districts, approved by the Legislative Reapportionment Committee earlier this week, also will represent a change for Lescovitz.

Originally, he was to lose all of Beaver County from his district. But the final tally has his turf in Beaver County shrinking, but not disappearing. Also, Lescovitz picks up part of South Fayette Township, Oakdale and the Allegheny County part of the borough of McDonald.

Lescovitz originally was slated to represent parts of the city of Washington and South Strabane and North Franklin townships. However, those split municipalities were brought back together and will be entirely represented by Solobay.

“This plan puts almost all of the municipalities back together in Washington County,” Lescovitz said.

Lescovitz noted that usually during redistricting, two seats are lost in western Pennsylvania. This year, three seats were lost. Trich’s retirement allowed for one seat to be carved up, and the districts of Rep. David Mayernik, a Ross Republican, and Ralph Kaiser, a Brentwood Democrat, were redistricted out of existence.

Kaiser has announced plans to run for lieutenant governor. State Rep. Tom Michlovic, a North Braddock Democrat, also announced his retirement, but his district – the 35th House District – remains.


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