UPDATED Elections Analysis: Pennsylvania

After the three-judge federal panel and the US Supreme Court both rejected Republican legal appeals to overturn the new state Supreme Court-imposed congressional map, candidates submitted their official filing documents to run in the new districts.

We now have a idea as to where the key Pennsylvania political battles will occur, and who will be some of the key players. Today we take a look at the first nine districts. On Monday, we'll review CDs 10-18. The party primaries are scheduled for May 15th.

NEW! Apparently, Rep. Ryan Costello (R-West Chester), after filing for re-election, is apparently considering already dropping out of the race. This is a developing story. If he withdraws, the two-term incumbent virtually hands the seat to Democrat Chrissy Houlahan, a first-time candidate for any office, because the local Republican Party will have no way of replacing him. Attorney Greg McCauley filed in the Republican primary and could well become the party nominee if Costello backs away. It is unclear why Costello filed for re-election if he was not serious about running.


District 1 - Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown)

Freshman Rep. Fitzpatrick faces attorney Dean Malik in the Republican primary. Three Democrats filed, including Scott Wallace, grandson of WWII era Vice President Henry Wallace (D). Attorney Rachel Reddick and non-profit organization executive Steven Bacher round out the Democratic field. The new 1st is highly competitive, and this race could well evolve in to a toss-up campaign. 


District 2 - Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia)

Originally designed as an open seat, or the place where retiring Rep. Bob Brady (D-Philadelphia) may have run, the new 2nd will now go to two-term Rep. Brendan Boyle who formerly represented a district anchored in Montgomery County. The new 2nd contains the eastern part of Philadelphia and is a safely Democratic seat. Radio talk show host Michele Lawrence is challenging Mr. Boyle in the Democratic primary, and Republican David Torres will be his general election opposition. Rep. Boyle will have little trouble in securing this new district.

 

District 3 - Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia)

This is a heavily African American Democratic seat that freshman Rep. Dwight Evans will have little trouble holding. He has only minor opposition in both the Democratic primary and the general election. 


District 4 - Open Seat (Safe Democratic)

The new 4th District is similar to the former 13th District that Rep. Brendan Boyle represented. This seat is now open and features a major Democratic primary. Former Rep. Joe Hoeffel returns to attempt to claim the seat that he represented for three terms in the late '90s and early 2000s. But, he has strong opposition from two state Representatives, Madeleine Dean and Mary Daley. Additionally, gun control activist Shira Goodman is also in the race. The eventual Democratic nominee faces investment company executive Daniel David, but the general election should only be a formality. The real race is in the Democratic primary, but this is already a tough campaign to call.


District 5 - Open Seat (Safe Democratic)

The new 5th is largely the Delaware County seat that retiring Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Chadds Ford) represented. The changed configuration becomes a safely Democratic district, however, instead of the lean Republican characterization of the former 7th District. Fourteen Democrats have filed in the primary election, including state Reps. Greg Vitali and Margo Davidson, Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland, ex-Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Rich Lazer, who appear to be the most prominent individuals among the more than dozen Democrats in the race. Republican Paul Addis, who was originally self-funding a US Senate campaign, reversed course and entered this campaign upon the new districts being drawn. He faces one GOP opponent, ex-Senior Deputy Attorney General Pearl Kim. The eventual Democratic nominee will capture this seat.


District 6 - Rep. Ryan Costello (R-West Chester)

Uniting all of Chester County in the new 6th District makes this seat more Democratic, but only slightly so. Either party can win here. Rep. Costello will face a Democratic first-time candidate. Non-profit executive and retired Air Force veteran Chrissy Houlahan is the lone Democrat who filed. 


District 7 - Open Seat (Toss-Up)

If retiring Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Allentown) were seeking re-election, this new Lehigh Valley seat, comprised of Lehigh and Northampton Counties, along with a about one-third of Monroe County, will yield a tight campaign in any election. Six Democrats filed, including long-time Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli, who has previously run for statewide office, and Allentown City Solicitor Susan Ellis Wild. Republicans feature two candidates, Lehigh County Commissioner and Olympic Gold Medalist Marty Nothstein, and former Lehigh County Commissioner Dean Browning. Rep. Dent would have the edge here if he were running again. In open seat configuration, however, Democrats are looking at this district as a favorable conversion opportunity.

 

District 8 - Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Moosic/Scranton)

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre seat should lean to incumbent Matt Cartwright, but the historical voting patterns suggest a pure toss-up. Republicans filed three candidates, including two who have the ability to self-fund a campaign. Venture capitalist and investment banker John Chrin, who was originally running against Rep. Cartwright in his former 17th District, comes to the 8th, though most of his roots are in the neighboring 7th CD. Real estate developer Robert Kuniegel is also in the race along with former federal prosecutor Joe Peters. It appears the GOP will field a strong candidate no matter who wins the Republican primary.

 

District 9 - Open Seat (Safe Republican)

The east-central district that includes all or parts of eight counties is where Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton) would have run for re-election had he not decided to challenge Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D). As an open seat, the district votes heavily Republican as the 65-31% Trump winning percentage reveals. Three Republicans and three Democrats have filed. The Republican field features former state Revenue Commissioner Dan Meuser, Schuylkill County Commission chairman George Halcovage, and former CIA officer Scott Uehlinger. Among the three Democrats is former state Agriculture Secretary Denny Wolff.

 

District 10:   Rep. Scott Perry (R-Dillsburg/York)

Though new District 10, that now includes all of the York and Harrisburg metro areas, is more Democratic than Mr. Perry's previous 4th District, President Trump still posted a nine percentage point win during the 2016 presidential election contest. Rep. Perry is unopposed in the Republican primary and draws five Democratic opponents, including 2016 congressional nominee Christina Hartman who suffered a decided loss to freshman Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster) in an adjoining district. Ms. Hartman raised over $1.1 million for her first congressional effort, and was originally seeking a re-match with Rep. Smucker. When the new redistricting plan left him with a solidly Republican district, she moved here even though none of her previous territory transferred to new CD-10.

The remaining Democratic field includes a former Obama Administration staff member, a retired Air Force non-commissioned officer, a minister, and an epidemiologist. Rep. Perry is a heavy favorite for re-election.

 

District 11:     Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster)

If there was a big Republican winner in the court-mandated redistricting plan, it was Rep. Lloyd Smucker who sees his district returning to a Lancaster-anchored CD, with the remaining territory shifting westward. President Trump ran at a 60-35% clip in the new 11th, considerably better than in his former 16th District, which was beginning to trend more Democratic. Only non-profit organization executive Jess King filed in the Democratic primary after former nominee Christina Hartman departed for the neighboring 10th District. The freshman Congressman and veteran state legislator draws former Lancaster County Republican Party chairman Chet Beiler as a primary opponent. Rep. Smucker is secure for re-election.

 

District 12:     Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport)

The new 12th CD is a sprawling north-central Pennsylvania district that contains 13 whole counties and parts of two others. Four-term Rep. Marino should have little trouble retaining this new seat that contains 68% of his previous constituency. The Congressman first faces Bradford County Commissioner Doug McLinko in the Republican primary. Two Democrats, neither of who have previously run for any prior office, battle for their party nomination. Rep. Marino will easily clinch a fifth congressional term.


District 13:     Open Seat (Safe Republican)

The new 13th District is comprised of Republican territory from six different CDs, the majority of which comes from retiring Rep. Bill Shuster's (R-Hollidaysburg/ Altoona) former 9th District. The battle to succeed the outgoing House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman will be settled in the Republican primary. Eight Republicans, including two state legislators, two military veterans, a physician, a businessman, and two frequent candidates do battle in the May 15th Republican primary. The winner will easily defeat former school board member Brent Ottaway in the general election. President Trump topped 71% in this new CD.

 

District 14:     Open Seat (Safe Republican)

The new western Pennsylvania 14th District contains 57% of the former 18th, the electorate from which just elected Democrat Conor Lamb in the March 13th special election. The new CD-14 Republican primary features a rerun of the special Republican convention contest that again pits defeated nominee Rick Saccone opposite state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Bethel Park), but in a primary contest. The new 14th is considerably more conservative than the former 18th CD, which could help Saccone. Many believed that Sen. Reschenthaler would have easily won the special if he had prevailed in convention. This primary will allow us to determine if such post-election speculation is correct. Democrats have four candidates, but the GOP winner takes the seat in November.

 

District 15:     Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Howard/Allegheny National Forest)

Rep. Glenn Thompson is also a winner under the new redistricting map. He gets a sprawling 70% Trump northwest to central Pennsylvania district that contains 57% of the voters from his previous 5th CD. With no Republican opponent, Rep. Thompson will have little trouble in the general election against minor Democratic opposition.

 

District 16:     Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Butler/Erie)

The new 16th, that hugs the Ohio border from Lake Erie all the way to the northern Pittsburgh suburbs, is a Trump +20 district that will be safe for veteran Rep. Mike Kelly. Retaining 81% of his previous 3rd District territory, Mr. Kelly is unopposed in the May 15th Republican primary and will face one of three Democrats, two of who are defeated previous candidates. Rep. Kelly is a prohibitive favorite for re-election.

 

District 17:     Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley)/Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh)

Newly elected Rep. Conor Lamb has chosen to run in this new Pittsburgh suburban district despite having to face a veteran Republican incumbent in a tilting Republican district that contains 56% of his opponent's constituency base. Though just winning the March 13th special election, Mr. Lamb will only see 20% of his new constituency follow him into District 17. On the other hand, this new CD is much more hospitable to a Democratic candidate, and the $15 + million in combined special election spending was largely expended in the Pittsburgh media market. Therefore, his name identification here is high.

Rep. Keith Rothfus was first elected to the former 12th District in 2012, defeating then-incumbent Rep. Mark Critz (D-Johnstown), 52-48%. He has won strong re-elections in the succeeding two campaigns. Rep. Rothfus, preparing for what he foresaw as a potentially unfavorable redistricting for him, amassed close to $1.5 million for this campaign and professes to be ready for a tough general election fight. The new 17th is a 49-47% Trump district. This race could become the premier 2018 Pennsylvania congressional campaign and must be rated as a toss-up.

 

District 18:     Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pittsburgh)

Rep. Doyle gets a solid Democratic seat that includes most of the city of Pittsburgh, and 76% of his former constituency. He draws only minor opposition in the Democratic primary. Shannon Edwards, who had the extra-marital affair with Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pittsburgh) that ultimately forced him to resign, had filed to run in the Republican primary but failed to even qualify for the ballot.