Promote fair redistricting
Since 2019, I’ve been working with more than 200 other former members of Congress, equally divided between Republicans and Democrats, in something called the “Reformers Caucus.” All of us are committed to promoting reforms that could restore Congress as an effective legislative body reflective of the will of the people. Gerrymandering is the main reason Congress doesn’t work. Gerrymandering creates politically rigged incumbent protection for Congress.
I served the district containing Warren in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1977 to my retirement in 1997. In my first campaign, I ran against an incumbent in a very competitive district and won with 52% of the vote. In my last campaign, the Pennsylvania Legislature had gerrymandered the District so much that no Democrat chose to run against me. Today, with gerrymandered districts, the primaries are the contested elections, and the primaries favor those unwilling to work with members of the other party to get things done.
Today, Pennsylvanians have a chance to ensure that redistricting based on the 2020 census can reverse this trend, and ensure that Congressional (and Pennsylvania Senate and House) elections are fair fights and not rigged blowouts.
How? By demanding that our legislators co-sponsor, support, and vote for the Legislative and Congressional Redistricting Act, LACRA (House Bill 22/Senate Bill 222). This legislation mandates a transparent and fair redistricting process, with a great deal of public involvement. It identifies criteria of fairness, including the requirement for “contiguous and compact” districts already in state law, and it adds tested and objective measures of fairness, and requires that proposed maps be available for meaninful public comment and input before final adoption.
I thank Sen. Scott Hutchinson for already lining up as a co-sponsor of this legislation. Please join me in letting Rep. Kathy Rapp, Sen. Michele Brooks, and the leaders of both parties in the Pennsylvania Legislature know that now is the time, and LACRA is the way, to end gerrymandering in Pennsylvania.
William Clinger retired in 1997 as a U.S. representative.