Pa. court ruling puts candidates' campaigns on hold

Author: , Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published: Feb 06 2012 07:00:00 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 07 2012 06:30:42 PM EST
Pa. court ruling puts candidates' campaigns on hold

Candidates who have already launched their campaigns for a relocated Pennsylvania House district are holding their breath.

Nearly two weeks ago, Pennsylvania's highest court scrapped plans that would shift a House seat from Erie County to Berks County. Now, the question is what happens next for the candidates looking to fill that seat.

Three contenders were trying to capture their party's nomination in a primary set for April 24.

"I call it the hypothetical 5th District right now because it's really not in existence," said Fred Sheeler, a Democratic candidate and Berks County Recorder of Deeds.

Pennsylvania's Supreme Court rejected the state's legislative redistricting plans last month, meaning the current district lines drawn in 2001 will remain in effect for now.

"If we stick with the 2001 lines, then the folks of Berks County will be greatly under represented," said Joe Rudderow, one of the Republican contenders.

A new map was drawn after the 2010 census, moving Pennsylvania's 5th House District from Erie County to central Berks County. 

With the court's decision, the candidates said they can't run in a district that does not exist, and they're not sure what will happen next.

"There is theories from they're going to push the primary back, they're going to have two primaries, or it's just going to be delayed two years for state house and four years for state senate," said Sheeler.

Officials with Berks County Election Services said they are also sitting in limbo.  They have already secured polling locations for the primary and are waiting on how to proceed.

The new plan is being sent back to the drawing board, but no one knows if a new map will be completed by the April primary.

"There's certainly challenges and it has been a little bit of a roller coaster," said Rudderow.

"It's uncharted territory," said Sheeler. "This hasn't happened like this before, but we have to make due with what we can."

The other Republican candidate to announce his campaign, Michael Rivera, was not available for comment.