Governor Wolf says new Pa. map should be used for congressional elections

Written by Mark Scolforo/The Associated Pres | Mar 6, 2018 2:06 PM

Gov. Tom Wolf speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at his office in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(Harrisburg) -- Governor Tom Wolf has told the U.S. Supreme Court it would cost millions of dollars and confuse voters if the justices stop current plans to hold congressional elections this year based on a new district map imposed last month by the state Supreme Court.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf argued in a brief against a request made by two high-ranking Republican state legislative leaders on Feb. 21 that the justices put a hold on state court orders that threw out a GOP-crafted 2011 map and imposed a new map for use in this year's congressional races.

"A stay at this point in the process will force the congressional primaries to be rescheduled at an estimated cost of $20 million, or cancelled entirely," Wolf's lawyers wrote. "It will also sow confusion with respect to which map is in use and which election dates are in force."

Congressional candidates in Pennsylvania began to collect signatures last week to get on the primary ballot under a revised calendar the state Supreme Court issued for congressional races only. Six of the state's 18 U.S. House members have either quit or are not running for re-election this year, an unusually large number.

House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, the ranking Republicans in their respective chambers, want the court to block the new map, arguing the state Supreme Court overstepped its authority in creating new districts and did not leave the Legislature enough time to come up with its own replacement.

Democrats on the state Supreme Court ruled the 2011 map was a partisan gerrymander that violates the state constitution's guarantee of free and equal elections.

Widely viewed as among the country's most gerrymandered congressional maps, the 2011 district boundaries have resulted in a 13-5 edge for Republicans in three straight election cycles. During the same period, Democrats prevailed in 18 of 24 statewide elections.

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