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GOP's redistricting plan - a joke with so many punchlines

December 14, 2011 - Mike Maneval
The Republican-selected board responsible for drawing new boundaries for U.S. House districts have released their plan - on which the State Senate is expected to vote this week - and the results are shameful, yet also hilarious.

Hilarious because the Democrats, in retaliation, have set up a website soliciting opinions on what the districts resemble, Rorschach ink blot style. Pennsylvanians already are noting the new 7th district looks like a monkey riding a giraffe, and the 17th district like a boat speeding away from a sea monster, or a seahorse riding a platypus. Other suggestions included the lamp from Disney's Aladdin for the 14th district, two lobsters for the 7th, and a losing game of Tetris for the 3rd district.

Shameful because the convoluted boundaries appear to serve no other purpose than strengthening Republican chances and leave House members serving disparate and far-flung communities - for example, Tom Marino's district runs from Perry and Juniata counties to the New York state line and over to the New Jersey state line. It would take about seven hours to drive through Marino's district from one end to the other ... though less than 4 hours if you cut through two other U.S. districts to get from Perry County in the southwest corner of Marino's district to Pike County on the eastern end. Once again, the Democrat representing solidly Democratic Johnstown will have to run against another incumbent Democrat if they both wish to remain in the U.S. House. Ten years ago, Republicans combined the Democratic-leaning districts of Jack Murtha and Frank Mascara to force the two into a primary race, creating a seat that ran from Johnstown to the southernmost suburbs of Pittsburgh. Now, the district will reach even further west, circling - but not including - Pittsburgh to encompass the western suburbs of Pittsburgh. This merger pits incumbent Democrat Jason Altmire against Murtha's successor, Mark Critz. Republicans clearly have decided if they can't defeat Altmire and Critz - and even in 2010's boom year for the GOP, they couldn't - they'll get one to do some of the heavy lifting for them. And this disregard for what the public wants and sense of entitlement to congressional seats is far more shameful than hilarious.


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