Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) rejected a new district map drawn by GOP lawmakers, bringing the state closer to handing its redistricting process over to a court.
The GOP map was drawn after the state Supreme Court struck down the state’s current congressional map in a gerrymandering case.
Wolf’s press office confirmed that the governor told Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court that he won’t approve the new congressional lines on the grounds that it’s a “partisan gerrymander that does not comply” with the court’s order or state constitution.
“Partisan gerrymandering weakens citizen power, promotes gridlock and stifles meaningful reform,” Wolf said in a statement. “As non-partisan analysts have already said, their map maintains a similar partisan advantage by employing many of the same unconstitutional tactics present in their 2011 map.”
State GOP lawmakers submitted a new map to Wolf last Friday, just ahead of the court-ordered deadline for new lines. A chief of staff to the state Senate president said that lawmakers drew more compact districts and sought to avoid dividing counties, cities and towns.
Following the release of the proposed map, Pennsylvania Democrats immediately pushed back on the new lines and urged the governor to reject it.
The governor had until to decided whether to approve the map. That means the state Supreme Court will likely handle redrawing new congressional lines and it would have until to draw the new map.
The new map needs to be in place prior to the primary. Pennsylvania’s secretary of State already pushed back the time frame for candidates to circulate nominating petitions, but there are no plans to delay the primary.
While the new lines are still up in the air, Democrats are expected to benefit from the redistricting and political observers predict them picking up three to five seats.
That would be a significant advantage for the party as they compete for the House majority. Democrats need to flip 24 seats in order to take back the House.
Pennsylvania is expected to see the most changes in the southeastern part of the state, particularly around the Philadelphia suburbs. But some strategists in the state believe that while Democrats will benefit in some targeted districts, new lines could still raise the prospects for some vulnerable Republicans.