Former Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Dave Reed, R-Indiana (Photo via City & State Pa.)
Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
Back in 2018 — which now seems like a lifetime ago in Pennsylvania politics — Republican Dave Reed decided to ditch his gig as the top-ranking Republican in the state House, where he’d served since 2003, and run for Congress.
By 2018, Reed had spent three years as House GOP leader, working under then-Speaker Mike Turzai, and riding herd over a caucus that had grown steadily more conservative. After talking it over with his family, he decided to try to move to Washington (which, for some reason, he thought would be less contentious than Harrisburg).
Four years later, Reed, 43, is now the Pennsylvania president of First Commonwealth Bank, a financial services company based in his hometown of Indiana, Pa.
And with it clear that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will once again handle the decennial redrawing of the commonwealth’s congressional map, Reed told the Capital-Star that he’d like the high court and its mapmakers to make the new redraw as transparent as possible, to explain the criteria they’re going to use in that process, and to hold those map-making discussions publicly.
The conversation below has been lightly edited for clarity and content.
Q: You explained some of your rationale for wanting to fix redistricting in an op-Ed for City & State Pa. earlier this month. But what do you think is wrong with the process, and what do you want to do about it?
A: The big thing that I talked about is an openness and transparency to the process. Everything has changed in the last couple of decades. With technology anyone can draw a map. It’s not shocking [that Gov. Tom Wolf] and the Legislature didn’t come to terms — I’m not sure they really tried. Now that it’s been punted to the courts, they clearly have to have this discussion in public.
The days of the old gerrymander should be over … We should have maps that make sense from a community perspective, and a balance-of-power perspective. That means some districts will be overwhelmingly Democrat, and some will be overwhelmingly Republican. You can’t draw a Democratic district in the Northern Tier. And you can’t draw a Republican district in Philadelphia.
For the other districts, you have to get to the closest thing to being even as is possible. As the districts get more and more gerrymandered, you get extremes coming through on both sides, and you end up having a government that’s dysfunctional.
Q: I don’t mean to be impolite here, but I’m going to impolite: But if you were so concerned about unfair maps and gerrymandering, as you say you are, why didn’t you do anything about it when you had the chance?
A: You have to remember, I wasn’t leader [during the last remapping] in 2011. [Former House Speaker] Mike Turzai was leader, and he drew the maps in 2011. During my time as leader, I looked for a fairer way to draw the maps. But before I became leader, it was not something that drew my attention more. For those who wanted to see government do things, it was a great hindrance to that occurring.
(Editor’s Note: Reed announced his support for redistricting reform — in May 2018, just about two months after he ended his congressional campaign, and as he got ready to leave the House at year’s end.)
The system always used was not the best system out there. But you had pure politics at play. As soon as the 2015 judicial elections happened [when Democrats took control of the state Supreme Court], it was clear the Democrats would never agree to a bipartisan commission [which Reed suggested in 2018, Ed.] The Democrats had waited decades to havae control of the process. Why would they ever agree to it? It wasn’t going to happen.
Q: So, all things being equal, what’s Dave Reed’s Platonic ideal? What would you like to see happen?
A: For this year, I would just like to see the Supreme Court, if they’re to be the final arbiter, publicly state that here’s the criteria they’re going to use, and have that discussion in public. And then when they choose a map, tell us why they choose a map. There’s no other way for this map to get done for this redistricting [except by the court]. I now live in a world where I can actually be idealistic a little bit. I get yelled at far less now.
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Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:
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What Goes On
The House comes in at 12 p.m. The Senate is in at 1 p.m.
10 a.m, Hearing Room 1, North Office Building: Senate Law & Justice Committee, hearing on recreational marijuana use
10:30 a.m, Main Rotunda: Rep. Danilo Burgos, D-Philadelphia, and others mark Dominican Independence Day.
11 a.m., Ryan Building Atrium: Southwestern Republicans roll out their policy priorities
2 p.m., Main Rotunda: Alternatives to Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition)
10:30 a.m.: Reception for Rep. Aaron Kaufer
10:30 a.m.: Reception for Rep. Milou Mackenzie
5:30 p.m.: Reception for Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward
6 p.m.: House Republican Campaign Committee 2022 kickoff event
Ride the circuit, and give at the max today, and you’re out a truly preposterous $12,000.
Gov. Tom Wolf currently has no public schedule. That sometimes changes midday.
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