UPDATED Dec. 16 11:41 a.m.: Sewickley residents could lose their current federal lawmaker if a congressional redistricting map put together by Republicans in the state General Assembly continues to move its way through the Pennsylvania statehouse.
The redrawn map of Pennsylvania's 18 new congressional districts merges Democrats Rep. Jason Altmire (D-4) of McCandless and Rep. Mark Critz (D-12) of Johnstown into one legislative district—the new 12th district. That means that one of the two incumbents would be forced out in a primary leading up to the 2012 general election.
Sewickley is currently in the 4th legislative district and is represented by Rep. Altmire.
Under the new plan, 66 percent of the constituents in the new 12th congressional district would be pulled from the current 4th congressional district. About a quarter of current 12th district constituents would remain in new 12th district under the plan.
On Wednesday, the state Senate voted 26-24 to approve the congressional redistricting plan. On Thursday, the House State Government Committee also passed the plan. It will go to the full state House for a vote next week. And if passed, the legislation will then head to Gov. Corbett for approval.
According to at least one Democratic insider, the legislation is expected to be a done deal by the end of the year, "It will be done by Christmas—unfortunately."
In response, Altmire Thursday released a video biography to help introduce himself to residents of the newly drawn 12th Congressional District in preparation for next year’s election.
“As I continue to serve the constituents in the district I currently represent, I am also beginning the process of reaching out to voters in the newly drawn 12th district, where I live and plan to seek re-election in 2012," Altmire said in a statement.
"In the weeks and months ahead, I look forward to visiting with residents throughout the new district as I begin my re-election campaign."
Calls to Rep. Critz have not been returned.
Democrats, who introduced their own version of the map as an amendment, which then failed, blasted Republicans for the plan.
"The Republicans have proposed a map far more partisan and gerrymandered than anyone would have guessed, a map that they will now force into law without any public input," Jim Burn, Pennsylvania Democratic Chairman, stated in a press release earlier this week.
"We knew that the Republicans would use their control of the process to draw a map that benefited Republicans, but we did not expect them to abuse their power to this degree, all while shutting out the public."
The redrawn map features significant changes because the state's congressional delegation is losing a seat for the 2012 election thanks to the 2010 census. Pennsylvania will go from 19 to 18 seats, with each new district representing about 705,000 people.
In the 2000 census, Pennsylvania lost two seats, moving from 21 representatives in Congress to 19.