Democrats to control Pennsylvania House after special election sweep

Pennsylvania Democrats have swept three state House special elections, CNN projects, securing control of the chamber after a months-long dispute with Republicans.

Democrats easily won the Pittsburgh-area races in November’s general election, claiming a 102-101 majority — their first in more than a decade. But with two members departing for higher office and another dying shortly before the election, Republicans effectively outnumbered Democrats, forcing the sides to strike an uneasy power-sharing deal.

That is over now. Democrats are firmly in control of the body, capping off a dramatic reordering of the commonwealth’s politics. Gov. Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, was elected in a landslide last year and Democratic US Sen. John Fetterman flipped the seat previously held by Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. By winning the state House, Democrats will enjoy greater influence in crafting Pennsylvania’s all-important budget bill. Their victories also laid down another marker ahead of the 2024 elections, when Pennsylvania will again be a key presidential battleground.

When the state House session started last month, a group of Republicans, including members of the party’s leadership, joined Democrats to elect Democratic Rep. Mark Rozzi as speaker. But the chamber has been in a state of uncertainty ever since and hasn’t passed operating rules.

While Democrats will now control a majority of seats in the chamber, it’s unclear whether Rozzi, Democratic leader state Rep. Joanna McClinton or someone else will hold the gavel.

In the 32nd district, Democrat Joe McAndrew will replace longtime state Rep. Tony DeLuca, who died in October, but still won 86% of the vote in November.

In the 34th district, Democrat Abigail Salisbury will replace Summer Lee, who was elected to the US House in November.

And in the 35th district, Democrat Matt Gergely will replace Austin Davis, who was elected lieutenant governor as part of Shapiro’s ticket.

There will soon be another vacant seat to fill following Republican Lynda Culver’s victory last week in a state Senate special election.

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