New Pa. congressional map forces two Swissvale candidates into different districts | Politics | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

New Pa. congressional map forces two Swissvale candidates into different districts

click to enlarge New Pa. congressional map forces two Swissvale candidates into different districts (2)
CP Photos: Jared Wickerham
District 12 candidates Jerry Dickinson and Summer Lee
While Gov. Tom Wolf has called the newly adopted Pa. redistricting plan "a fair map that will result in a congressional delegation mirroring the citizenry of Pennsylvania,” one candidate in Southwestern Pennsylvania has been drawn out of her old district by only a few blocks.

Two of the Democratic candidates running for the seat of retiring U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Forest Hills) in District 18, state Rep. Summer Lee (D-Swissvale) and Jerry Dickinson, live in Swissvale. But the state's new redistricting map has split the old District 18 into two new districts District 12 and District 17. While Dickinson's home is in the new District 12, which includes a bulk of the same area as the former 18th District, Lee's home is in the new District 17.

"It is heartbreaking, but not surprising, that my house and my family were very specifically carved into a different district," said Lee in a statement on Feb. 23. "It is a shame, but not a surprise, that my home and the communities I currently represent were divided - down to the precinct I live in. If there is one takeaway from this and every campaign I've been in, it is that we know there are barriers to Black women and people who build people-powered campaigns, but our movements are strong enough to win."

Soon after the new map was announced, Dickinson sent out a press release announcing his campaign for the new 12th District.

“Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District is my home — it is where my wife Emily and I live, it is where we are raising our family, and it deserves to be represented by someone who has a real stake in its future and lives in this community," states Dickinson in the release, which included a note at the end, pointing out that Lee now resides in the new 17th District.

However, candidates do not have to live in the district in which they reside to run. As a result, Lee also announced her candidacy for the new District 12.

In an Instagram Live address on Feb. 23, Lee said that no one can speak to the map makers' motives, but added that it's "really interesting" to see that "one block out of the whole street is cut out."

In an interview with WESA, Stanford University political science professor Jonathan Rodden said he was hired to draw a map with the smallest adjustments possible to the existing district boundaries and "certainly did not access any information about the residential addresses of any potential candidates."

"We're going to deal with what we're given, and the reality is that whether I live at this address, or if I live literally five houses up the street, this is my home, this is my community, this is my district," said Lee on Instagram.

Following the announced redistricting change,
the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1776, which represents over 30,000 working members throughout the state, announced its endorsement of Lee on Feb. 24.

“Summer has a clear, bold, and progressive vision to ensure workers have the freedom to form and join unions to advocate for themselves and their families,” said Wendell Young IV, president of UFCW Local 1776, in a press release.

This follows Lee's endorsement from U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley on Feb. 23, before the redistricting map was announced.

Meanwhile, a string of endorsements for fellow District 12 candidate Steve Irwin of Squirrel Hill, who lives in the new District 12, was announced in a press release on Feb. 24. This includes endorsements from former Pittsburgh Mayors Bill Peduto and Tom Murphy, and
current Pittsburgh councilors Bruce Kraus (D-South Side) and Dan Lavelle (D-Hill District).

Bhavini Patel of Monroeville, who was also formerly running for Doyle's seat in District 18, now lives in District 17. According to her Facebook page, Patel will remain a candidate for the new District 12.