Politics

The Political Turnpike Runs Through Pennsylvania

Resignations, retirements and redistricting scramble the midterm calculus

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The Pennsylvania Shuffle

If you’re confused about what comes next in Pennsylvania, even after this week’s primary elections set the midterm slate, don’t worry. That just means you’re paying attention. 

A court-ordered redraw of the congressional district lines and a spate of resignations and retirements has scrambled the Keystone State, at least when it comes to the battle for the House majority. 

When the 115th Congress started in January 2017, the partisan breakdown in the House was 13 Republicans and five Republicans. This week — and this keeps changing — it’s 10 Republicans and six Democrats, with two vacancies. 

Just in the last couple of weeks, Republicans Patrick Meehan and Charlie Dent quit, and their seats will remain vacant until Election Day. Their districts, meanwhile, will give way to redrawn ones, along with the rest of the state, and this has Democrats hoping they can flip a few more seats in their quest to flip the House itself. 

Roll Call’s senior political reporter Bridget Bowman talks about the primary and the races that will be the most competitive in this week’s Political Theater podcast:

Ch-ch-changes

Here’s the Pennsylvania House delegation in January 2017:

And here it is this week: 

Oh, and Brady, Costello and Shuster are retiring, and Barletta is running for Senate, so they’ll all definitely be gone from this roster come January.

And — all these districts are changing anyway under the new lines redrawn by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court after it ruled the previous districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered. 

And, and! — Pennsylvania usually loses a seat in the decennial redistricting, so musical chairs will shuffle anew in 2022. 

A Fit for Fetterman

Braddock, Pa. Mayor John Fetterman speaks with supporters in 2016 during his unsuccessful run for the Senate at the Interstate Drafthouse in Philadelphia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
John Fetterman, the mayor of Braddock, Pa., speaks with supporters in 2016 during his unsuccessful run for the Senate at the Interstate Drafthouse in Philadelphia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Way back in the 2016 election, John Fetterman, the mayor of Braddock, Pa., cut a memorable figure on the campaign trail.

The 6-foot-8-inch, tattooed and tough-talking liberal ran for the Democratic Senate nomination, competing against former Rep. Joe Sestak and Katie McGinty for the right to take on GOP Sen. Patrick J. Toomey

McGinty prevailed, then lost to Toomey in the fall, a disappointment for Democrats on a disappointing night for them as they lost up and down the ticket, from the presidential to local level. 

But Fetterman is back on the ballot again, having prevailed in Tuesday’s Democratic primary to be his party's nominee for lieutenant governor, where he'll share a ticket with incumbent Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who is running for a second term. 

The City of Political Convention Love

Philadelphia and its suburbs always seem to be a focus of the political calculus. Perhaps it’s no surprise that the City of Brotherly Love has seen its share of political conventions, dating back to the founding of the Republic and the Constitutional Convention, up to the 21st century, when each of the political parties has taken a turn feting their presidential nominees.

George W. Bush took a bow in 2000.

GOPconvention12(TW)080300 -- Gov. George W. Bush, R-Texas, and wife Laura after his acceptance to the GOP Presidential nomonation at the First Union Center in Philadelphia, Pa.
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

And Hillary Clinton made history as the first woman to be nominated by a major political party in 2016.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her running mate Tim Kaine, left, celebrate at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa., on the final night of the Democratic National Convention, July 28, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Kicker

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 26: From left, House Majority Whip, Steve Scalise, R-La., House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, sit on stage while waiting for President Donald Trump to address the GOP retreat in Philadelphia on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017. House and Senate Republicans are holding their retreat through Friday in Philadelphia. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
From left, House Majority Whip, Steve Scalise, R-La., House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, sit onstage while waiting for President Donald Trump to address the GOP retreat in Philadelphia on Jan. 26, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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