State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Federal ruling against banning 2001 lines prolongs waiting game for new-district candidates

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Feb 10, 2012 8:53 PM

Imagine you are a candidate for a district created under the 2012 state senate district map.  Imagine how bummed you’d be if the state Supreme Court tossed out the plan that gave you a district in which to run.  And imagine that you were really hoping the existing district lines created in 2001 would be ruled unconstitutional.  


Meet Don O’Shell – the man who introduces himself as the possibly former candidate in the 15th Senate District being vacated by Republican Senator Jeff Piccola – and moved to York County under the 2012 plan that was rejected by the state Supreme Court.   


If the 2001 district lines stick, O’Shell couldn’t run, because he lives outside the current boundaries.  So when the federal judge’s rejection of the request from top Republican lawmakers that the 2001 state House and Senate district lines be banned from use in this year’s elections isn’t great news for O’Shell.  


We’re going through all the motions of a campaign recognizing that they’re just that – motions,” said O’Shell, who works as the York County Clerk of Common Courts.


He doesn’t want to risk not campaigning, in case the Legislative Reapportionment Commission can approve new district maps in time for a primary.  Republican leaders could pass state law to postpone the primary election date so the LRC has more time to approve new maps. 


For now, though, leaders say they’re still weighing their legal options.  O’Shell said he’s still collecting signatures even though he’s not living in the district in which he’s collecting. 


“I’m not even sure what I’ll do with these [signatures] once I have them,” said O’Shell.  “Technically, they’re not – from my understanding – valid, because we’re under the 2001 map.”


Is he sorry he threw his hat into the ring?


I’m not the least bit sorry,” O’Shell said.  “I would’ve ordered less tablets and other campaign literature, had I known this was kind of in the cards,” he continues, laughing.  “But no, I’m not sorry.”


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