Democrats Flip State House in Key Battleground State

Democrats Flip State House in Key Battleground State
Pennsylvania Capitol Building in Harrisburg in January 2023. (Beth Brelje/The Epoch Times)
Beth Brelje
Updated:
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If Pennsylvania’s famous groundhog dabbled in politics, he might predict two years of gridlock in the state Legislature now that Democrats control the House and Republicans control the Senate under Democrat Gov. Josh Shapiro.

As expected, three Democrat state representatives were elected in special elections Tuesday, in solidly Democrat districts. This ends the tug-of-war over party control in the House that has been in play since the November election.

After the election, the House had 101 Republican and 102 Democrat seats, a thin Democrat majority that was met with enthusiasm from the party that had been stuck in the minority since 2011.

But one Democrat seat was empty because longtime Democrat Rep. Anthony M. “Tony” DeLuca died after the ballots were printed. Voters chose him posthumously. And two other seats were immediately vacated by candidates who ran for two offices and left their House seats for higher offices. Former state Rep. Austin Davis is now the lieutenant governor and former state Rep. Summer Lee is in Congress.

With three vacant seats, the House had 99 voting Democrats and 101 Republicans. That gave Republicans the majority, and they were ready to get started right away.

But Democrats said the voters put Democrats in those seats and the seats were likely to remain in Democrat hands. Why name Republican leadership when Democrats are ultimately going to be in charge, Democrats argued.

It’s an important question because the majority party has a few perks, such as naming a speaker of the House and leading the agenda in committees. The majority drives the agenda, including which legislation gets to a the floor for a vote and which ideas will forever languish in committee.

In January, Rep. Mark Rozzi, a Democrat was nominated by a Republican and named speaker in a split vote. He told the chamber he would act as an independent and caucus with neither party.

Republicans, who had a voting majority, urged Rozzi to pass House operating rules. That didn’t happen.

Instead, Rozzi ordered the chamber doors locked when not in session, kept the House adjourned, and went on a statewide listening tour to get feedback from constituents on how to fix gridlock in Harrisburg.

This special election restores the Democrat majority. All three races were in Allegheny County, the greater Pittsburgh area.

DeLuca’s former seat was went to Joe McAndrew, 32, a business owner, former state House Democratic staffer, and the former executive director of Allegheny County’s Democrat Committee.

Lee’s former seat went to Abigail Salisbury, 40, a lawyer and Democrat member of the Swissvale Borough Council.

Matthew Gergely, a Democrat who works for the McKeesport city government, was elected to succeed Davis.

The Associated Press Contributed to this report.
Beth Brelje is an award-winning Epoch Times reporter who covers U.S. politics, state news, and national issues. Ms. Brelje previously worked in radio for 20 years and after moving to print, worked at Pocono Record and Reading Eagle. Send her your story ideas: [email protected]
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