Category Archives: Redistricting

Gerrymandering Ruling in North Carolina Could Alter Majority

North Carolina Congressional Districts

North Carolina Congressional Districts


By Jim Ellis

Sept. 3, 2018 — Last week, the same three-judge panel that previously ruled the North Carolina congressional boundaries as unconstitutional did so again, well after the lines were re-drawn in 2016 to reflect one of their previous decisions.

Predictably, the two Democratic judges ruled to overturn the legislature’s map once again, with the lone Republican dissenting. This time, the ruling concerns political gerrymandering, after the panel originally tossed the map because of what they cited as “racial gerrymandering.” The North Carolina delegation has split 10R-3D since the original 2011 map was created after the 2010 census.

The latest action, coming at a time when the US Supreme Court has only eight members because Judge Brett Kavanaugh has not yet been confirmed to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, could stand if the high court fails to halt or invalidate the ruling.

If the decision remains, it becomes very unclear as to how the election would proceed. If the lines are suddenly unconstitutional, a new map would have to be set in its place. At this point, it is probable that the court would usurp the state legislature’s constitutional power and force its own map into law.

What happens to the candidates who won the May primaries, or even lost, as in the case of Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte), remains in flux. It is likely many lawsuits would be filed, likely from candidates who won primaries but were denied the chance of running in the subsequent general election, to voters who would be disenfranchised after voting for a candidate who, after being nominated, no longer appears on the ballot because the particular voter has been arbitrarily shifted to another district, and every argument in between.

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Wisconsin Gerrymandering Ruling;
Greitens Still Lingering

By Jim Ellis

Wisconsin Congressional Districts

Wisconsin Congressional Districts

June 20, 2018 — The United States Supreme Court issued their long-awaited ruling on the Wisconsin political gerrymandering case on Monday, and it basically sends the parties back to the drawing board. At one time it was thought that Wisconsin was the vehicle for the high court to issue a definitive ruling regarding political gerrymandering, which continues to be the subject of many live redistricting lawsuits. Instead, on a rare 9-0 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs did not have the necessary standing to bring the action.

The plaintiffs came from four Wisconsin Assembly districts who claimed they were personally harmed by the state legislative boundaries the legislature and governor adopted back in 2011. The court ruled that such plaintiffs did not have adequate standing to bring a statewide lawsuit.

The court did issue some orders, however, that will make later political gerrymandering suits more difficult to bring because certain technical standards must now be met in future action. As part of the plaintiffs’ standing ruling, the justices vacated the lower court ruling that ordered the state assembly districts re-drawn. It is now likely that political boundaries around the country are finally set for the 2018 election.

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Democrats Now Need 23

By Jim Ellis

March 29, 2018 — It appears that Pennsylvania Rep. Ryan Costello (R-West Chester) is turning over a projected swing 2018 electoral seat in PA-6 to the Democrats without so much as a fight. Doing so will reduce the net number of Democratic majority conversion seats from the current 24 to 23.

Rep. Ryan Costello (R-West Chester)

Rep. Ryan Costello (R-West Chester)

The two-term Philadelphia suburban representative informed Keystone State Republican leaders on Tuesday that he will remove his name from the ballot and not run for re-election. Yesterday was the final day for Pennsylvania candidates to withdraw before the primary ballots become permanent.

The major issue for Republican leaders with this belated move is that the candidate filing deadline already has passed, and another Republican has qualified for the ballot. Attorney Greg McCauley filed his candidate documents and presented the proper number of ballot petition signatures. Therefore, as the only Republican who was running opposite Costello in the GOP primary, it is likely that this obscure challenger will now be unopposed for the party nomination. McCauley has a credible resume but has never run for public office, and is not viewed as a top-tier candidate for an impending campaign in a highly competitive district such as PA-6.

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Pennsylvania Files – Part II

By Jim Ellis

March 27, 2018 — Today we finish our look at the new Pennsylvania filings from Districts 10 thru 18, but first must mention a new story floating in the Washington Post and throughout the local Philadelphia media.

New Pennsylvania Congressional Map | Source: Pennsylvania State Supreme Court

New Pennsylvania Congressional Map | Source: Pennsylvania State Supreme Court

Rep. Ryan Costello (R-West Chester), after filing for re-election, is already dropping out of the race. In withdrawing, the two-term incumbent virtually hands the seat to Democrat Chrissy Houlahan, a first-time candidate for any office, because the local Republican Party will have no way of replacing him. Attorney Greg McCauley filed in the Republican primary and becomes the party nominee now that Costello has backed away. It is unclear why Costello filed for re-election if he was not serious about running.

District 10: Rep. Scott Perry (R-Dillsburg/York)

Though new District 10, that now includes all of the York and Harrisburg metro areas, is more Democratic than Perry’s previous 4th District, President Trump still posted a nine percentage point win during the 2016 presidential election contest. Rep. Perry is unopposed in the Republican primary and draws five Democratic opponents, including 2016 congressional nominee Christina Hartman who suffered a decided loss to freshman Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster) in an adjoining district. Hartman raised over $1.1 million for her first congressional effort, and was originally seeking a re-match with Rep. Smucker. When the new redistricting plan left him with a solidly Republican district, she moved here even though none of her previous territory transferred to new CD-10.

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Pennsylvania Files – Part I

By Jim Ellis

New Pennsylvania Congressional Map | Source: Pennsylvania State Supreme Court

New Pennsylvania Congressional Map | Source: Pennsylvania State Supreme Court

March 26, 2018 — After the three-judge federal panel and the US Supreme Court both rejected Republican legal appeals to overturn the new state Supreme Court-imposed congressional map, candidates submitted their official filing documents to run in the new districts.

We now have an idea as to where the key Pennsylvania political battles will occur, and who some of the key players will be. Today we take a look at the first nine districts. Tomorrow, we’ll review CDs 10-18. The party primaries are scheduled for May 15.

District 1 – Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown)

Freshman Rep. Fitzpatrick faces attorney Dean Malik in the Republican primary. Three Democrats filed, including Scott Wallace, grandson of WWII era Vice President Henry Wallace (D). Attorney Rachel Reddick and non-profit organization executive Steven Bacher round out the Democratic field. The new 1st is highly competitive, and this race could well evolve in to a toss-up campaign.


District 2 – Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia)

Originally designed as an open seat, or the place where retiring Rep. Bob Brady (D-Philadelphia) may have run, the new 2nd will now go to two-term Rep. Brendan Boyle who formerly represented a district anchored in Montgomery County. The new 2nd contains the eastern part of Philadelphia and is a safely Democratic seat. Radio talk show host Michele Lawrence is challenging Boyle in the Democratic primary, and Republican David Torres will be his general election opposition. Rep. Boyle will have little trouble in securing this new district.


District 3 – Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia)

This is a heavily African American Democratic seat that freshman Rep. Dwight Evans will have little trouble holding. He has only minor opposition in both the Democratic primary and the general election.


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