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Republican consultant (and former Arlen Specter campaign manager) Chris Nicholas has an interesting post on PoliticsPa today noting that that long-held 1.2 million Democratic registration advantage in Pa has dwindled down to less than 900K. The reason is inactive voters, largely around Philadelphia -- people who have not voted in a long time who election officials are poised to take off the voter rolls.

Nicholas, naturally, says some of this was due to the GOP's great year in 2010. But what's really worth noting is how it could also tilt congressional redistricting even more toward the Republican side, he writes:

The data shows that more than 121,000 [Philadelphia] voters (87,549 Democrats; 18,844 Republicans and 14,972 others) have recently been flagged as inactive and are thus ineligible to vote.

The Democrats still hold a large – though shrinking — edge in voter registration, but the trend is now tilting toward the GOP and will definitely impact the upcoming redistricting process – already set to be ruled by the Republican Party due to its control of both the Legislature and the Governor’s office.

The new year will bring an explosion of competing Congressional redistricting maps since the computer technology now exists to manipulate large volumes of voter data in real time. No longer the province of just political parties, interest groups as well as bloggers will now be able to combine the new computer technology with available voter data and create their own redistricting maps. Be prepared to be inundated as we enter a new era of “citizen redistricting.”

Here are the latest registration numbers as of December 2010:

• Active Registered Democrats = 3,490,301
• Active Registered Republicans = 2,594,864
• Current Democrat Advantage = 895,437

It's a municipal election year, with thousands of local races from county executive down to dj pauly d costumecouncil, school director and district judge (aka "DJ") spots. As usual that makes for a lot of complicated domino-like scenarios, including the one facing Pittsburgh City Councilman Doug Shields.

Shields, who took over the council district from late Mayor Bob O'Connor (his longtime boss) is widely expected to not run for reelection this year in order to run for the DJ seat currently held by Squirrel Hill's Nathan Firestone, who has reached mandatory retirement age. The problem is Allegheny County has more district courts than any county in the state, and the state Supreme Court is looking to close some 10 percent of those courts statewide in a budget-cutting move -- and Firestone's district looks to be one of them. (It's easiest for the state to target courts faced with retirements or vacancies.)

The PG's Janice Crompton has a very nice story spelling out the proposed changes -- offices in Braddock, the North Hills and Forest Hills may also see closures -- which the county's president judge, Donna Jo McDaniel, could propose as soon as today*:

"At this point, it's out of my hands," Shields said of the possible closings. "I hope the judiciary does come to a decision soon."

It gets more complicated: Corey O'Connor, the son of the late mayor and an aide to Mike Doyle, and Chris Zurawsky, president of the 14th Ward Democratic Club, are expected to run for Shields' council seat.

* UPDATE: Judge McDaniel's plan is now expected to be released early next week.


Jason Altmire was on Fox News yesterday explaining why he won't support full repeal of health care reform (he spelled it out in full here). Altmire is used to pressure from the Democratic side criticizing his opposition to the bill last year, but his current stance will earn him brickbats from the other side too -- Politico notes that an arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation (called Heritage Action for America) has hired a Pennsylvania director partially to mobilize voters against the health care bill.

The director is Leo Knepper of State College Schuylkill County. Here's a brief bio from Heritage:

Mr. Knepper, a Penn State graduate, has experience in Pennsylvania where he built grassroots networks to fight against abuses in the state house, including the massive uprising against the infamous midnight pay raise, and worked to elect conservative candidates. He is currently pursuing an MBA at Penn State.

Another group called DeFundIt is pressuring Altmire and other anti-HCR Dems to favor full repeal.

The face of Cambria County government, president commissioner P.J. Stevens, will not run for reelection this year. The Democrat plans to return full-time to the Carrolltown-based family carpet business. (Altoona Mirror/GrassrootsPa)


Valerie McDonald Roberts, the manager of the Allegheny County’s department of real estate, said she plans to seek the Democratic nomination for county controller.

Mark Patrick Flaherty, the incumbent controller is expected to make a formal announcement soon on his anticipated candidacy for county executive.  Here’s a recap for those of you who haven’t been keeping up with the latest episodes of As the Courthouse turns:

County Executive Dan Onorato has said that he will announce soon whether he will bounce back from his defeat in the governor’s race by seeking a third term in the top county job.  Shawn Flaherty’s the controller’s cousin, has said that Mark Flaherty will run for the Democratic nomination for the post regardless of Mr. Onorato’s decision although the controller has yet to make a formal announcement.

A variety of other Democrats, including Rich Fitzgerald, the county council president, and city of Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb, have said that they would also consider a bid for executive but only if Mr. Onorato chose not to run.  At least three Democrats _ so far, no Republicans _ have said that they will run for controller.  State Rep. Chelsa Wagner, of Beechview, and Nick Kotik, of Robinson, said on Wednesday that they were likely to run for controller.  George Matta, a former clerk of courts now employed by The Rivers Casino is also considering that race.

Ms. McDonald Roberts is a former Pittsburgh school board and city council member.  She served as recorder of deeds before the county post was abolished with the consolidation of the county’s row offices.

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