Dems: Follow McDonnell's lead

Published by Tim McNulty on .

Pennsylvania Democrats want Gov. Tom Corbett to follow Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's lead and come out Bob McDonnellagainst changing the state's Electoral College system.

"The proposed plan is a partisan scheme that diminishes the voice of Pennsylvania on the national stage," state Sen. Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, said. "Gov. Corbett needs to quickly, and unequivocally, reject this attempt to destroy a system that has served Pennsylvania well."

Some Republicans are pushing Pa to move away from the winner-take-all system that gave Barack Obama all 20 of the state's electoral votes to one distributing them either by congressional district or the proportion of the state vote (which would give Obama 7 or 12 votes respectively). Corbett hasn't remarked on the push but was mostly in favor when a similar effort was underway in 2011.

McDonnell -- the keynote speaker at a statewide GOP dinner in Harrisburg Friday night that also features Corbett -- announced his opposition last month to electoral changes in Virginia, where his spokesman said the governor "believes Virginia's existing system works just fine as it is."

The full press release by Senate Minority Leader Costa and House Minority Leader Frank Dermody is after the jump:

Harrisburg – February 7, 2013 – Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate and House legislative leaders said today that they strongly oppose a Republican plan to make changes in the current Electoral College winner-take-all system that could reduce the state's national electoral clout and unfairly swing elections to Republican presidential candidates.

State Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) and Rep. Frank Dermody, Democratic leaders in the Senate and House respectively, said that no change should be made in the Electoral College system. A winner-take-all system is used in 48 states.

"The Republican plan for changing the system to one where the apportionment of electors is based on the proportional vote of each candidate would effectively end Pennsylvania's importance as a swing state," Costa said. "The proposed plan is a partisan scheme that diminishes the voice of Pennsylvania on the national stage.

"Gov. Corbett needs to quickly, and unequivocally, reject this attempt to destroy a system that has served Pennsylvania well."

The senator said that Republicans floated the idea because President Obama carried the state in the last two General Elections and Democratic presidential candidates have won Pennsylvania repeatedly over the last generation. Meanwhile, there is no plan to split the vote proportionally in heavily Republican states such as Texas and Alabama, he said.

Dermody said that Republican governors in Ohio and Virginia have rejected these types of schemes as violating a basic sense of fairness, but Gov. Corbett has failed to categorically reject this assault on fair elections.

"Although Republicans are couching their proposals in the language of fairness, the motivation for changing the Electoral College is purely partisan," Dermody (D-Allegheny) said. "The Republican Party lost in 2012 because they failed to appeal to the majority of voters in Pennsylvania.

"They know they can't win on the issues, so they are resorting to underhanded tactics and undermining the principle that the candidate who obtains a majority of the votes should prevail."

Dermody went further, saying that the Republican plan "is about rigging the game and diminishing Pennsylvania's influence over who becomes our next president."

Costa and Dermody called on Gov. Corbett to immediately declare his opposition to the proposal and pledge to work with both Republicans and Democrats to solve critical challenges such as job creation, education, transportation and repairing the social safety net.

"This isn't the first time that we've seen national Republicans push Pennsylvania Republicans to make changes for partisan purposes," Costa said. "Republicans tried to help their candidate last year in the presidential election by adopting a flawed voter ID law that caused legal action and confusion on Election Day."

"In order to improve their chances in Pennsylvania, the national Republican Party should alter its extreme policy views rather than rigging the rules of elections," Dermody said. "It makes no sense for Pennsylvania to arbitrarily reduce its considerable national political profile and relegate us to small state status."

Pennsylvania has 20 electors that cast votes in the Electoral College.

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