Republicans have said the name of their redistricting game in 2012 was to shore up vulnerable incumbents as much as endangering Democrats. And in Pennsylvania, Republicans drew a map that protects all of their vulnerable members.
The map draws Democratic-heavy cities in northeast Pennsylvania and Democratic-friendly parts of the Philadelphia suburbs into Democratic districts, making the seats of Reps. Jim Gerlach, R-Pa., Pat Meehan, R-Pa., Lou Barletta, R-Pa., and Tom Marino, R-Pa., more conservative. It merges the western Pennsylvania districts of Democratic Reps. Jason Altmire and Mark Critz, forcing them into a primary in a R +6 district Republicans believe they can pick up. Rep. Mike Kelly's northwestern Pennsylvania seat gets a little more Republican.
Barletta, one of the most vulnerable Republicans under the old map, benefits the most from the redistricting. His gerrymandered seat is now solidly Republican, and it would be tough for a Democrat to unseat him. Democratic Rep. Tim Holden picked the Democratic cities of Scranton and Wilkes-Barre from Barletta, which should shore up his competitive seat.
Gerlach and Meehan currently represent Democratic-leaning seats; the new lines would make both districts R+1 seats, according to GOP operatives. Meehan's southeastern 7th District becomes one of the most gerrymandered in the state in order to shore up his base, reaching out into Lancaster now while snaking through Chester County and into Berks County.
With both the legislature and the governor's mansion in GOP hands, the map is expected to easily move through the state House and Senate this week, and head to Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's desk for his signature.