Earlier this week, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania struck down the Republican-drawn congressional maps as unconstitutional and ordered that they be redrawn to fairly represent Pennsylvanians.
This Supreme Court decision is a monumental step forward for fairer maps that better represent Pennsylvania communities. And the current map – drawn by a Republican legislature and a Republican governor – unfairly divides our communities to benefit Republican political interests. It’s simple: gerrymandering hurts our democracy.
The legislature has until February 9th to develop a replacement map to submit to me, and I will have until February 15th to review that map and decide if it is fair and should be submitted to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. If I decide that the replacement map that is submitted to me by the legislature is unfair, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania will come up with a map themselves.
I pledge to you now that I will reject any map that is unfair or continues partisan gerrymandering.
I’ve long advocated for a non-partisan commission to remove the politics from redistricting, but until we can make a system like that a reality, I will stand up strongly for fairness. This is about unrigging the system and drawing fair maps that are representative of the people, not politics.
Right now in Pennsylvania we have an opportunity to make a strong statement, and I will stand strongly against extreme and partisan gerrymandering. If I’m fortunate enough to be re-elected in 2018 and have the honor to as serve as Governor in 2021 when the maps are re-evaluated, I pledge to you that I will again reject any map that does not fairly represent the people of Pennsylvania.
I wrote my 1981 doctoral dissertation on the voting patterns of the U.S. House of Representatives in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Back then, districts were much more responsive to the people’s will than they are in Pennsylvania today. Today, politics are put ahead of people far too often and as a result, we are stuck with a system that protects incumbents and lifetime politicians, fosters partisan bickering, and prevents bipartisan compromise.
It’s time to have a fair competition of ideas. I believe that if Democrats in Pennsylvania are given a fair and honest shot and the ability to truly represent the will of the people, we will have a stronger economy that works for the middle-class, affordable and quality health care, and a better opportunities for our children.
I vow to do everything I can to make sure we fix our gerrymandered maps now and ensure that they stay that way in the future. This is about our Republic, our democracy. This is about giving power back to the people of Pennsylvania.
Tom Wolf is the current Governor of Pennsylvania. You can follow him on Twitter for more updates at @WolfForPa and @GovernorTomWolf