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New congressional map causes local politician to change course

Kerith Strano Taylor, seen at left debating U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson in 2014, has suspended her congressional campaign after the state Supreme Court’s redistricting decision, electing instead to run for the state House of Representatives.
Kerith Strano Taylor, seen at left debating U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson in 2014, has suspended her congressional campaign after the state Supreme Court’s redistricting decision, electing instead to run for the state House of Representatives. Centre Daily Times, file

The state Supreme Court on Monday shook up Pennsylvania’s political landscape when it released its new congressional map.

With only a few months to go before the primary election, politicians are scrambling to figure out what this means for them and their political futures.

For Democrat Kerith Strano Taylor, the court’s decision means a complete change of course.

After battling Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard Township, in 2014 and 2016 to represent Pennsylvania’s 5th District in U.S. Congress, the Brookville lawyer has decided to suspend her congressional campaign and instead challenge state Rep. Cris Dush for a seat in the state’s House of Representatives.

“There was a narrow pathway to victory for me in 2018 in the old 5th District. I do not see that pathway in the new 15th District,” she said in a release. “Instead, I have decided the most effective way for me to fight for distressed rural communities and families is to run for the 66th District seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives this year.”

Strano Taylor announced her third campaign to unseat Thompson on Dec. 14, citing the incumbent’s voting record on taxes and health care as her main reasons for running.

Her previous bids have come up short, losing by about 34 percent in 2016 and 28 in 2014.

“I know that this decision will be a disappointment for many. At the same time, I am convinced that this is the right decision. Our Pennsylvania Supreme Court did the right and just thing by giving the General Assembly the opportunity to craft a new, fair map, and decided to order their own when the Republican legislature failed,” she said.

All funds donated to Strano Taylor’s campaign thus far will be used to support her new campaign, according to a release.

The 66th Legislative District, which includes Strano Taylor’s home county of Jefferson and the northern part of Indiana, has been represented by Dush, a Republican, since 2015.

Dush has made news recently by a letter he circulated, calling for the impeachment of the Democratic members of the state Supreme Court over their redistricting decision.

Strano Taylor cited Dush’s action as one reason for her decision to reroute her campaign efforts.

“... As a lawyer, I find this disrespect for justice beyond the pale. I hope the rest of us can agree that we’re not going to impeach judges every time they make a decision we don’t like,” she said.

Strano Taylor said her campaign will spend the next few days focusing on reorganizing her campaign.

Pennsylvania’s primary election will be held May 15.

Lauren Muthler: 814-231-4646, @lmuth1259

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