Redrawn congressional map keeps Franklin, Fulton counties in Shuster's district

December 20, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster
U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — The 9th Congressional District will retain Franklin and Fulton counties if Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett signs the redistricting bill headed to his desk.

The state House of Representatives approved the proposed new map, 136-61, on Tuesday; it already passed the Pennsylvania Senate. The Republican governor is expected to sign it into law.

“Overall, I’m pleased with how my map came out,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, who represents the 9th District.

Shuster lost parts or all of Cumberland, Juniata, Somerset, Huntingdon and Mifflin counties. He gained part or all of Fayette, Greene, Washington and Indiana counties.

“The district still performs well for conservative candidates. ... It still keeps the basic nature of the 9th District the same,” Shuster said in a conference call late Tuesday afternoon.

The 9th District is mostly rural with small towns, other than Altoona, which has a population of 48,000. Shuster said he’ll no longer be able to maintain an office in the Borough of Somerset because it won’t be in his district.

Shuster said it will take him about four hours to drive from one side of his district to the other.

A new congressional map is required every decade to reflect population shifts recorded in the census. Because Pennsylvania grew more slowly than the rest of the nation, it lost a U.S. House seat, dropping from 19 to 18 in the 2012 election and ensuring significant changes.

Each district will have about 750,000 people in it.

Those once-a-decade changes are being controlled this time around by Republicans, since they control the state Legislature and the governor’s office.

Meanwhile, the redrawn map shifts tracts of Democratic-leaning voters, such as the cities of Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, from swing districts to districts where they are less likely to defeat Republican incumbents. It also would stretch districts held by Republicans in increasingly liberal areas of eastern Pennsylvania deep into central Pennsylvania to pick up more conservative voters.

Republicans defended the map as meeting stringent legal and constitutional guidelines, and say the map serves the will of voters by protecting the incumbents they’ve already picked. Democrats criticized it as a map in which politicians pick their voters, not the other way around.

New legislative districts for state lawmakers were recently released.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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