Editor’s Note: This story is part of our Running Women project following 15 compelling women candidates in 2018.
Pennsylvania Democrat Chrissy Houlahan doesn’t know which congressional district she is running to represent anymore. Her confusion stems from a recent State Supreme Court ruling that voided Pennsylvania’s district map.
The quagmire traces back to last June, when the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and other individual voters filed a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s 2011 district map as a case of unconstitutional Republican gerrymandering. Last month, following a lengthy legal battle, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the map is, indeed, unconstitutional, and ordered that a new map be submitted to the court.
Pennsylvania Republicans then submitted a plea to the United States Supreme Court to block the ruling. But on Friday, Justice Samuel Alito rejected that request, allowing the ruling to stand. As such, Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled Legislature is required to submit a newly drawn congressional map to Gov. Tom Wolf by Feb. 9. Wolf then has until Feb. 15 to submit that plan to the State Supreme Court, or reject it.
In the process of redrawing the map, Pennsylvania’s 6th, 7th, and 16th Congressional Districts are likely to change significantly, spreading Democratic voters out more evenly and leveling the playing field against previously favored Republican candidates.
Houlahan, who has been running to represent the 6th District, now faces a great deal of uncertainty. She has been working to flip a Republican seat in what has been considered a swing district. How does a candidate campaign when she doesn’t know who her voters are? How does she canvass an unknown population?
The moment may be tricky for her, but Houlahan called the ruling a “win for democracy.” She told the Associated Press that redistricting won’t affect her campaign platform, which is focused on healthcare, job creation and education. But she added: “It’s going to be strange for me the next few weeks.”