HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The state’s new congressional districts are set. But boundaries for new state House and Senate seats have not yet been finalized. There are legal challenges and the courts could clear those next week. However, it’s not just about seats, but also musical chairs.
Sue Helm’s (R-Dauphin) Hummer is in campaign mode. The candidate, not so much. “It was carved out to be a Democratic district,” Helm said. Her suburban Harrisburg district was redrawn. She’s about to be lumped into a seat with fellow GOP incumbent Andrew Lewis (R-Dauphin).
“It seems like a partisan gerrymander to me Dennis,” Lewis said.
House Republicans are the most disgruntled about new maps, which passed with a bipartisan 4-1 vote. But they’re not the only ones. Democratic Senator Lisa Boscola sued over the way her Lehigh Valley is being split. Senator John Yudichak, an independent, was merged into a district with Republican incumbent Lisa Baker and may not run.
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“I think it’s fair to say that not everyone’s gonna be happy with any map,” Lewis said. But Lewis and Helm, which both had competitive districts, not only must face each other but a new seat that is overwhelmingly Democrat. “It’s certainly a very steep, uphill climb for any Republican to win,” Lewis said.
Helm, a 15-year incumbent, may hang it up and drive into the sunset, Though she doesn’t want to. “There’s a lot of money that goes into a race and is it better used in a race that maybe can’t be won or do something else with the money but I also don’t want to give the Democrats a free ride either,” Helm said.
Lewis is also mulling whether to wage what’s likely an unwinnable fight. But he accepts that when the state gets carved up, some people get cut. He doesn’t take it personally.
“If this whole thing is about me and how angry I am then suddenly it brings into question whether I’m doing this for the right reasons and I think it should be about your constituents and not the person elected to represent them,” Lewis said.
There are court challenges to the proposed maps. It’s widely expected they’ll be addressed next week so the process can move on.