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Democrats see General Election gains in PA, but the GOP maintains solid majorities in General Assembly chambers


Whether there was a “blue wave” can be debated, but Tuesday’s General Election in Pennsylvania saw the state’s Democrats make some important inroads for the party.

With 99.32 percent of precincts statewide reporting (as of approximately 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 7), unofficial results have Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, as expected, easily securing a second four-year term (John Fetterman will be his new Lieutenant Governor when the two are sworn into office in January), and Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey winning another six-year term.

It was likely more the Pennsylvania Supreme Court-drawn congressional map, and less a “blue wave,” for the 2018 election cycle that produced what proponents of a new map had hoped – more Democratic-held seats: The current 13-5 split in favor of Republicans looks to become 9-9 when the new Congress is sworn into office in January.

That delegation will also see its first female members – yes, that’s plural – in years with Democratic state Rep. Madeleine Dean winning the new 4th Congressional District, Democrat Mary Gay Scanlon winning the new 5th District, Democrat Christina Houlahan winning the new 6th District and Democrat Susan Wild winning the new 7th District.

There will also be several changes coming in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, though unlike at the national level, Democrats were unable to take the majority in either the state House of Representatives or the state Senate.

However, they did trim the Republican majorities in each of the chambers.

In the Senate, where Republicans were defending 18 of 25 seats up for election this year, unofficial results show Democrats appear to have been able to flip five of those seats – most of those contests are fairly close – which would mean a 29-21 majority for Republicans when the new legislative session begins in January. Prior to the 2014 election cycle, Republicans held a 27-23 majority, expanding it to 30-20 in the 2014 election, and to 34-16 in the 2016 election.

Incumbent state Sens. John Rafferty, R-Montgomery (44th District) and Tom McGarrigle, R-Delaware (26th District) appear to have lost their bids for re-election, while the contest pitting GOP state Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, R-Bucks (6th District) against Democratic state Rep. Tina Davis looks to be headed to a photo finish with 104 votes (out of an unofficial 108,538 cast) separating the two. Three open seats that had been held by Republicans – the 7th, 12th and 38th – likewise look to have been captured by the Democrats.

In the state House, Republicans were defending 121 of the chamber’s 203 seats, 20 of which were open seats due to legislative retirements.

It appears as though Democrats were able to capture 5 of the open seats previously held by the GOP, and they were able to unseat 8 GOP incumbents.

However, Democrats also appear to have lost three Democrat-controlled seats: an open seat previously held by Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton (76th District), the seat of Rep. Bryan Barbin, D-Cambria (71st District) and the seat of Rep. Helen Tai, D-Bucks (178th District).

That means an apparent net gain of 10 seats for House Democrats. Prior to the 2014 election, Republicans controlled 111 seats in the House; following the 2014 election, the GOP majority increased to 119.

There will also have to be special elections held in three districts won by Democrats, since there wasn’t enough time to replace the late Rep. Sid Kavulich, D-Lackawanna (114th District) on the ballot; Rep. Tina Davis, D-Bucks (141st District) appears to have been successful in her state Senate bid, opening her House seat; and Rep. Vanessa Brown, D-Philadelphia (190th District) was recently convicted of political corruption (her sentencing is later this month).

As expected, GOP-held seats in the southeast were prime targets for Democrats, who rode significant enthusiasm for Democratic candidates to several apparent victories, including defeats of incumbent state Reps. Kate Harper, R-Montgomery (61st District); Tom Quigley, R-Montgomery (146th); Rebecca Corbin, R-Chester (155th); Warren Kampf, R-Chester (157th); Eric Roe, R-Chester (158th); James Santora, R-Delaware (163rd); Alexander Charlton, R-Delaware (165th) and Duane Milne, R-Chester (167th).

New faces in the state Senate will include:

• Former Democratic state Rep. Steve Steve Santarsiero, who appears to have defeated GOP state Rep. Marguerite Quinn for Bucks County’s 10th District, an open seat left by the retirement of GOP state Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, Jr.;

• Democrat Maria Collet who appears to have bested Republican Stewart Greenleaf Jr., who had been hoping voters would have the same favorable opinion of his as they have had of his father, GOP state Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, who left the 12th Senatorial District seat, which cover parts of Bucks and Montgomery counties, open with his retirement;

• Democratic Swarthmore Mayor Timothy Kearney, who looks to have ousted GOP state Sen. Tom McGarrigle from Delaware County’s 26th District;

• GOP state Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill, who gave up her state House seat to run for York County’s 28th Senatorial District seat left open by former state Sen. Scott Wagner leaving to run for governor;

• GOP state Rep. Judy Ward, who gave up her state House seat to run for the 30th Senatorial District seat (which is comprised of Blair and Fulton counties, as well as portions of Cumberland, Franklin and Huntingdon counties) left open by the retirement of GOP state Sen. John Eichelberger;

• Democrat Lindsay Williams, the communications director for the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, who, helped by decent Democratic turnout for race higher-up on the ballot, looks to have eked out a win over Republican Ross Township Commissioner Jeremy Shaffer, the winner of the GOP primary over GOP state Sen. Randy Vulakovich in Allegheny County’s 38th Senatorial District; and

• Democrat Katie Muth, who appears to have defeated incumbent GOP state Sen. John Rafferty for the 44th Senatorial District (which includes parts of Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties).

The list of new faces coming to the House in January is a bit more extensive (with notations regarding whether they were open-seat contests and if they represented a pick-up of a seat for either political party):

• 2nd District – Democrat Robert Merski (OPEN)

• 15th – Republican Joshua Kail (OPEN)

• 21st – Democrat Sara Innamorato

• 29th – Republican Meghan Schroeder (OPEN)

• 30th – Republican Lori Mizgorski (OPEN)

• 34th – Democrat Summer Lee

• 39th – Republican Michael Puskaric (OPEN)

• 40th – Republican Natalie Mihalek (OPEN)

• 44th – Republican Valerie Gaydos (OPEN)

• 53rd – Democrat Steven Malagari (OPEN)(PICK-UP)

• 54th – Republican Robert Brooks (OPEN)

• 61st – Democrat Laura Hanbidge (PICK-UP)

• 62nd – Republican James Struzzi (OPEN)

• 68th – Republican Clinton Owlett (OPEN)

• 71st – Republican James Rigby (PICK-UP)

• 74th – Democrat Dan Williams (OPEN)(PICK-UP)

• 76th – Republican Stephanie Borowicz (OPEN)(PICK-UP)

• 79th – Republican Louis Schmitt (OPEN)

• 80th – Republican James Gregory (OPEN)

• 82nd – Republican Johnathan Hershey (OPEN)

• 93rd – Republican Paul Jones (OPEN)

• 105th – Republican Andrew Lewis (OPEN)

• 112th – Democrat Kyle Mullins (OPEN)

• 143rd – Democrat Wendy Ullman (OPEN)(PICK-UP)

• 144th – Republican Todd Polinchock (OPEN)

• 146th – Democrat Joseph Ciresi (PICK-UP)

• 150th – Democrat Joseph Webster (OPEN)(PICK-UP)

• 153rd – Democrat Ben Sanchez (OPEN)

• 155th – Democrat Danielle Otten (PICK-UP)

• 157th – Democrat Melissa Shusterman (PICK-UP)

• 158th – Democrat Christina Sappey (PICK-UP)

• 162nd – Democrat David Delloso (OPEN)(PICK-UP)

• 163rd – Democrat Michael Zabel (PICK-UP)

• 165th – Democrat Jennifer Omara (PICK-UP)

• 167th – Democrat Kristine Howard (PICK-UP)

• 175th – Democrat Mary Isaacson (OPEN)

• 177th – Democrat Joseph Hohenstein (OPEN)(PICK-UP)

• 178th – Republican Wendi Thomas (PICK-UP)

• 181st – Democrat Malcolm Kenyatta (OPEN)

• 184th – Democrat Elizabeth Fiedler (OPEN)

• 193rd – Republican Torren Ecker (OPEN)

• 197th – Democrat Danilo Burgos (OPEN)

• 199th – Republican Barbara Gleim (OPEN)


PA Workforce Development Association