State House Sound Bites

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

Little buzz within GOP on electoral change plan

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Feb 10, 2013 10:20 PM
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Photo by Mary Wilson / witf

A controversial plan to change the way the state allocates its electoral votes to presidential candidates is getting regular beatings from state Democrats, but it doesn’t seem to be gathering much steam among Republicans.

The proposal would keep the winner of the state’s popular vote from taking all 20 electoral votes – instead, each candidate’s take would be based on his or her share of the popular vote. Gov. Corbett hasn’t taken a position on the plan.

“I haven’t seen a bill,” said Corbett at the Pennsylvania GOP State Committee’s winter meeting on Friday. So far, Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi has only signaled his intent to introduce such legislation with a co-sponsorship memo. If the plan had been in effect in Pennsylvania last November, Sen. Pileggi’s spokesman has said President Obama would have gotten 12 electoral votes, not all 20, based on his share of the popular vote.

State Democratic lawmakers are calling the proposed change a way for the GOP to sidestep the issue of its waning voter base.

“It’s important to note that Republican legislators, Republican governors in states where Republicans win typically at the presidential level, whether it’s Texas or Alabama or Mississippi – they have no interest in dividing their electoral votes,” said Democratic state Senator Daylin Leach of Montgomery County during a call with reporters Friday morning.

A similar plan failed two weeks ago in Virginia, after Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell said he opposed the measure. McDonnell was the keynote speaker at Friday’s GOP meeting, where he seemed to make veiled references to such efforts to change the way the electoral system works.

“We need to be about the politics of addition – and not subtraction and division – if we’re going to be a majority party for a long time to come,” said McDonnell.

“How can we improve the brand?” he added. “How can we welcome more people to our team? How can we widen the net to get new Americans and younger voters and casual voters and ethnic voters to our cause?”

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