Redistricting delays add to Democrats’ worries about keeping U.S. House


For the last two elections, Democrats regarded Brian Fitzpatrick as one of the U. S. Congress’s most vulnerable Republicans, but both times they failed to unseat him, even when his suburban Philadelphia district voted for Democratic President Joe Biden.

He is again on their target list for the Nov. 8, 2022, midterm elections – which will determine whether Biden’s Democrats keep control of Congress – but Democratic officials say finding a suitable candidate could be a challenge because the borders of the district are in flux and could be for months.

“That’s a significant concern,” said John Cordisco, chairman of the Democratic Party in Bucks County, which lies within the district. “When you are challenging a multiple-term incumbent, if you don’t have immediate name recognition — it becomes very problematic.”

The reason for the uncertainty is redistricting, the once-a-decade process by which House of Representatives districts are redrawn based on shifts in the U. S. population. The process always unsettles congressional elections, but this year the coronavirus pandemic has added to the turbulence by delaying the delivery of the census data needed to draw the districts until September.

“This is the most challenging redistricting cycle in decades,” said Michael Li, a lawyer at New York University’s nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice.

The redistricting delays compound what is already shaping up to be a difficult election for Democrats. Typically, the party that holds the White House loses seats in Congress in the president’s first term. Republicans need a net gain of just five seats to take control.

In states such as California, which has its map set by an independent commission, the redistricting process could run up against next spring’s deadlines for candidates to file.

“For a lot of folks, that can really stall their rollout in terms of running for office,” said Paul Mitchell, a redistricting consultant in Sacramento. “It’s a bigger problem for challengers.”

California is home to four of 21 Republican-held districts the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, an arm of the party that backs House candidates, has targeted for next year. Fitzpatrick’s district is another. The DCCC has also identified 32 other seats held by Democrats that it considers vulnerable.

Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent, has billed himself as an independent voice in … (Read more)