While many people are looking forward to February to see whether the traditional groundhog sees his shadow in Punxsutawney, those in the political circles are waiting to see when they can start circulating nominating petitions for the May election.

The date to circulate is 10 weeks before the election — scheduled for May 17. That would mean petitions could be circulated beginning Feb. 15.

However, because the redistricting map has not yet been approved, that might cause a delay of the election. For those not familiar with redistricting, every 10 years — after the Census — new boundary lines are made for various election districts — state House, state Senate and U.S. House of Representatives. Work has been going on since fall on doing that, but no agreement has been reached yet.

Reports are saying that if the new map is not approved by Jan. 30, the Supreme Court may pick the new map. That is one reason many people note the importance of the state appellate courts.

Others are saying the election could be delayed.

In the meantime, anybody who may be "thinking" about running for election, may have to make plans only to have them scrapped if the boundary lines don't include their residence.

• • •

Talking about residences, some people are upset that some candidates may not actually "reside" in Pennsylvania, but are running for the U.S. Senate, supposedly using the residence of a relative as their residence to meet the mandate.

They say that law should be changed to allow only bona fide state residents to run for office to represent them.

Apparently, other states have the same issue.

• • •

Looking at the upcoming election, it sounds like it may get exciting at the state level as candidates vie for nominations for governor, lieutenant governor and U.S. Senate.

All the incumbents are not seeking re-election. The governor and lieutenant governor can't because of constitutional term limits. Incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey is not seeking re-election, so that position is wide open.

More than just Pennsylvanians are watching that race as it could affect control of the U.S. Senate. Thus, the major interest.

Speaking about the lieutenant governor, incumbent John Fetterman is running for the U.S. Senate as well. He is seeking the Democratic nomination.

• • •

Voters could be voting on whether to change the constitution about how lieutenant governor candidates are chosen. Currently, they are elected independently by voters and then the governor and lieutenant governor nominees run as a "team" in the fall.

If the question is placed on the ballot, the new format would be the governor nominees would choose their running mate. One catch is the respective political parties would have to approve the choice and the "team" in place at least 90 days before the general election.

The thought is that it would prevent two members who don't agree to be elected. The thinking is that it would not only be smoother for operations, it could prevent other complications for a party's platform.

• • •

Josh Shapiro, the current state attorney general, is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor. There has only been one former attorney general (at least in recent history) who was successful in advancing to governor: Tom Corbett, who served two terms, before running for governor.

Shapiro, who is in the middle of his second term, would have to resign, obviously, should he be nominated and win the gubernatorial position.

He was first elected in 2017 and then re-elected in 2021. Because of term limits, he would not be able to run for a third term as attorney general.

• • •

Looking forward to 2023, it will be interesting to see how many candidates run for county commissioner since two incumbents are not seeking re-election.

If you recall, eight years ago there were close to 10 when John Amato was elected.

In 2019, if my memory serves me correctly, only incumbent Francis Weiderspahn ran again on the GOP ticket and incumbent Chris Soff was the only one who ran again on the Democratic ticket.

• • •

On a sad note, we send our condolences to the families of two very active Republican officials.

June Bennett, who was a long-time director of the county election office, died recently. She was a die-hard Republican and the county's "Woman of the Year" is named the June Bennett Woman of the Year Award" in her honor. She was well liked and many remembered her with affection, noting that everybody knew where she stood as she was not afraid to voice her opinion. She also was described as a "very hard worker" and previously was secretary of the county's GOP Committee.

Condolences also go to former county register and recorder Toni Allegretti, whose son, Mike, passed away recently. Although he no longer lived in Crawford County, he was born and raised here and will be missed.

Jane Smith is a retired Meadville Tribune reporter who specialized in covering government and politics.

Editor’s note: This column was updated Jan. 8 to correct the office Fetterman is seeking.

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