Even if the Pennsylvania Senate race between Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Sestak is expected to be a dogfight, the race for governor there is shaping up to be far less competitive. In the latest Rasmussen poll, Attorney General Tom Corbett, R, holds a 16-point lead over Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, D.
Republicans hold a 30-20 majority in Pennsylvania’s state Senate, whereas Democrats narrowly control the state House, 103-97. If Republicans can pick up four House seats, then a Corbett victory at the top of the ticket gives them control over redistricting, just as they enjoyed in 2001.
In this year’s U.S. House elections, Republicans are finding Pennsylvania a target-rich environment. Among the possible targets: Democratic Reps. Kathleen Dahlkemper, Paul Kanjorski, Mark Critz, Tim Holden, Jason Altmire, Patrick Murphy and Chris Carney, in addition to the open seat left behind by Joe Sestak. (Many of these seats were held by Republicans until 2006, but Republicans were a bit too ambitious with redistricting in 2001 and left them too vulnerable.)
If they control redistricting, Republicans will be able to protect any successful 2010 challengers by drawing them more favorable districts. Pennsylvania is also expected to lose at least one House seat in reapportionment, and so a strong performance would give Republicans the opportunity to eliminate at least one Democratic survivor.