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Democrats Get 'Royal Shaft' in Redistricting

State Representatives Nick Kotik and Jesse White had their House districts combined.

was dumbfounded when he saw the new redistricting map that moved his 45th House seat out east to suburban Philadelphia.

The redistricting committee released its new political map Monday and combined parts of his area with fellow .

“I’ve had better days,” Kotik told Patch.com. “It was totally political. I got the royal shaft, as they say.”

Kotik thought that his district, which currently stretches from Coraopolis to South Fayette, would remain relatively intact because it maintained its population. But the five-term representative said his district was “chopped up” in an overt political game by Republicans to get rid of Democrats.

If he wants to win re-election, Kotik will have to first run against White, a three-term Democrat from Cecil, in next year’s spring primary.

“It’s really about politics more than anything,” Kotik said from his Harrisburg office. “It’s about the Republican majority trying to get more seats. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to figure it out.”

White said that he and “everybody else in the Capitol” were surprised by the redistricting map when it was released by the committee made up of two Republicans, two Democrats and retired state Superior Court Judge Stephen McEwen, who was previously elected as a Republican. House Republicans released their version of the redistricting about half-hour before the committee voted on it along party lines with McEwen casting the deciding vote.

“At the 11th hour, a lot of the bipartisan agreements went out the window,” White said. “Instead, what was presented by the Republican leadership came out of the clear blue sky, or should I say clear red sky.”

The new district includes parts of Collier, Scott, Mt. Lebanon, Robinson, Rosslyn Farms, Ingram and all of Bridgeville, Carnegie, Heidelberg, Crafton, McDonald, Cecil, among other municipalities.

Kotik thinks that whomever is the Democratic nominee following the primary will face stiff competition in next November’s general election.

“I think this district was kind of tailored to give Republicans a competitive shot at it,” Kotik said. “Depending on what happens nationally, it’s not a slam dunk for a Democrat by any means. It’s going to be a very competitive district and it’s going to be a tough election.”

Kotik would neither commit nor rule out running for re-election against White. 

“It’s premature to even think about that right now. I’m just trying to absorb everything,” Kotik said. “I have to let the dust settle and see if this map may change. There’s always a possibility it could be changed, but I’m so shocked by this map that I’m having a hard time to absorb it.”

That’s because the redistricting maps are not yet finalized. The redistricting plan now is open to a 30-day public comment period. After that, the matter will go back to the Legislative Reapportionment Commission, which has another 30 to act on issue.

White said he intends to run for re-election in the new 46th House race, but he doesn’t think he and Kotik will “scheme and plot” against each other in the primary.

“Nick and I have talked about it—we’re going to work through it like adults,” White said. “We’re going to examine our options and keep everything above board.”

And he said he wants people to know that despite Monday’s vote, “if you lived in my district yesterday, you still live in my district now. This will change eventually, but we don’t want to create confusion.”

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Tom W. November 01, 2011 at 11:04 PM
Its about time Republicans get a hands up. The statement that Kotik made,“I think this district was kind of tailored to give Republicans a competitive shot at it,” tells me that the playing field was leaning toward the Democrats in the first place.
Mike Jones November 01, 2011 at 11:51 PM
What it tells me, Tom, is that the players shouldn't be the ones making the rules and reffing the game. I don't care which way you lean, politicians shouldn't be picking and choosing who stays and who goes. That's our job as voters.

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