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November 19, 2022

New maps, new results

Democrats captured a majority in the PA House by one seat, as the 151st district in Montgomery County flipped from Republican to Democrat. One of the reasons: a new map. When a bipartisan commission redrew the General Assembly districts after the 2020 Census, nonpartisan redistricting advocates and experts alike praised it for following criteria in state and federal law, such as compactness and minimizing the division of counties and municipalities. But the new map also takes into account population and demographic shifts of the past decade, providing better opportunities in some areas for communities of color to elect candidates of their choice. No map is perfect and this one has its critics, but it resulted from a far better process that should set the standard for 2031.

Fairer maps: As Fair Districts PA chair Carol Kuniholm put it to Pittsburgh’s WESA: “With a map that reflects the population more evenly, there’s the possibility that everybody’s voice will be heard, that everybody’s concerns will be heard, and that we will be represented more fairly.”

Solid turnout: Though down slightly from 2018 in Philadelphia, turnout statewide (55 percent) rose by 3.3 percent—the biggest increase of any state, according to the U.S. Election Project. Turnout in Montgomery County, home of the 151st District, was a whopping 68.5 percent.

Philly’s 2023 mayoral race takes shape

Former council member Allan Domb and grocer Jeff Brown formally announced their candidacies for mayor this week, joining Derek Green, Cherelle Parker, Maria Quiñones-Sánchez and Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, who resigned their public offices earlier this fall to make the run. Councilmember Helen Gym is expected to add to the fast-growing Democratic primary field, and Councilmember David Oh is rumored to considering a run for the Republican nomination. The Philadelphia Citizen sorts out the candidates and the issues.

Council races, too: If Gym announces her mayoral candidacy, her seat will also become vacant, adding to the turnover in City Hall and likelihood that the May 2023 Democratic City Council primary will have no shortage of candidates. (In 2019, 30 Democrats and seven Republicans ran for at-large seats in the primary.)

So far, former Kenney administration education official Michael Galvan and public interest attorney Rue Landau, both Democrats, have said they’re running for at-large seats, as has Republican Drew Murray, who also ran in last week’s special election.

Caught Our Eye

C70’s 118th Anniversary Event featuring David Rubenstein: Investor, author and philanthropist David Rubenstein will join the Committee of Seventy Monday, Nov. 21 (6 - 8pm) at the National Constitution Center to discuss why a strong economy requires a strong democracy, what business leaders can do to strengthen democracy, and why he believes giving back to one’s community and nation is essential. The conversation will be live-streamed. Virtual tickets are $70 and free for C70 members. Register.

On Our Radar

Performance art: PA House Republicans followed through on their plans to impeach Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner with a near party-line vote on Wednesday, though legal scholars question whether the policy and performance concerns they cite meet the constitutional threshold for impeachable behavior.

Another glass ceiling broken: Congratulations to PA Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), who is the first woman to be elected Senate president pro tempore, the third-highest office in state government.

New citizens; new voters: Billy Penn explores the challenges and opportunities facing newly naturalized PA citizens as they navigate elections and voting.

Signature fraud: The Inquirer reports that political consultant Rasheen Crews has been charged with forging thousands of signatures on nominating petitions for judicial candidates in 2019. Meanwhile, Northwest Philly State Rep. Chris Rabb plans to introduce a bill that would allow candidates to gather signatures electronically.

A win for primary reform: Nevada voters approved a ballot question last week to “final five voting,” which involves nonpartisan primaries followed by ranked-choice voting in a general election.

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