Three high-energy Democratic candidates worked feverishly to get the votes needed for endorsement at the party's nominating convention while State Sen. Andrew E. Dinniman decorated the parking lot of the Peirce Middle School with campaign signs, hoping to stave off an endorsement challenge. All for naught.

Minutes before Chester County Democrats began assembling for their nominating convention tonight, the state Supreme Court wreaked havoc with their plans, issuing a surprising decision that rescinded the redistricting. The court voted 4-3 to throw out a plan adopted Dec. 11 by the bipartisan Legislative Reapportionment Commission, which had aimed to meet a constitutional requirement to balance districts every decade acccording to population shifts. Opponents had appealed the plan, arguing that it chopped up townships, boroughs, and cities to favor incumbents.

Despite the upheaval, county Democrats were pleased with the decision, despite the fact that it drained the convention of its expected drama. The showdown between Dinniman, 67, and Tom Houghton, 43, a former state representative from London Grove Township, didn't happen. Houghton, a lawyer who serves as a London Grove Township supervisor, said he had planned to run against Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware County) until the redistricting shifted him into Dinniman's territory, the 19th District. Now, he's been shifted back. The candidates vying for the newly created 45th District - Caln Township Supervisor Joshua Young, former Downingtown Main Street Manager Barry Cassidy, and Josh Maxwell, who won election as Downingtown's mayor in 2009 — saw it disappear from Chester County. And a contested race for the 16th Congressional District, a seat that's been held by Republican Joe Pitts since 1997, was resolved a different way: Two candidates dropped out of the race, leaving Aryanna Strader, 29, of Kennett Square, an Iraqi war veteran who runs an IT company with her husband.

"The Supreme Court decision was a victory for every voter in Chester County, not just Democrats," said county chairwoman Michele Vaughn. "The court made a decision that was fair, rejecting a plan designed to retain political favorites ... For once, the people won." Vaughn said it might take a few days to sort everything out, but she believed county Democrats would be well-positioned for victories.  Vaughn said Democratic candidates for state House seats will include Mike Hays, 26th; Paul Drucker, 157th; Susan Rzucidlo, 158th; and Josh Maxwell, 155th.