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HARRISBURG — Democrats won control of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on Nov. 8, but their majority will be out for at least a few weeks into the new year.
Republicans will temporarily have a 101-to-99 lead in the 203-seat House. The seat must be filled in a special election.
But the Democratic majority will also be hit as two state legislators run for re-election while simultaneously competing for another elected office.
of Pennsylvania Constitution It expressly prohibits Members of the General Assembly from holding local, state, or federal offices.
Despite this ban, nothing prohibits a state legislator from simultaneously running for re-election and another elected office. Rep. Austin Davis (D-Allegheny) and Summer Lee (D-Allegheny) both ran. Davis became the next lieutenant governor, and Lee won the race to become Pittsburgh’s next congressman.
What Davis and Lee did was not uncommon, and politicians said it provided insurance. right.
But if state legislators are elected to another office, replacing them would require a special election and could be costly. hundreds of thousands of dollars to manage. Pat Christmas, a policy analyst for the Commission of Seventies, a Philadelphia-based good government group, said congressional voters have also been without representatives in Harrisburg for months.
“Seeking higher status still requires a leap,” Christmas said in an email.
(However, the Commission opposes resignation laws that: About Philadelphia Elected Officials and Government Officials Bookarguing that it gives an unfair advantage to the wealthy independently of the executive-owners who are unaffected by such requirements.)
State laws regarding vacancies during a legislative term also favor political parties, not voters, Christmas noted. private meeting.
Usually, in a large House like the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, losing two seats makes little sense, and vacancies can occur as members of Congress pursue various opportunities during the legislative session. According to State Department data, the state has held an average of 4.5 special legislative elections each year for the past decade.
But with only 102 seats won by Democrats in the state legislature, and a one-seat majority, members of Congress are prepared to preside over the House and elect a speaker who will set the rules for the next session. Every legislator matters when
With the sudden death of Rep. Anthony Deluca (D, Allegheny) a month before the midterm elections, Democrats will only get a maximum of 101 votes on oath day, January 3. his name from the vote.
Davis and Lee’s pending resignations have been criticized by several Republicans in favor of state Rep. The Democratic Party’s hold on power may come to an end before it begins. in the first few months.
Former Democratic House Speaker Bill Dewees lost his position in 2006 after members of his party, including Rep. Josh Shapiro. threw their support Behind moderate Philadelphia Republicans.
DeWeese told Spotlight PA: “The next few days, until noon on the day of the oath, a dizzying array of phone conversations trying to incite, persuade, and incite people in the opposition party to vote against the Presidency’s caucuses. is expected,” he said. ”
The seats for Davis, DeLuca and Lee will remain vacant until the new Speaker of the House schedules a by-election.
Under state law guidelines, the three special elections must be held no later than the May 2023 primary.
Asked why Davis was running for both offices, Shapiro’s campaign pointed to earlier comments from lawmakers.
“I have dedicated my life and career to public service,” Davis told WESA. January“And I would be a candidate for both because I want to continue that service.”
Lee’s spokesperson for the campaign, Abigail Gardner, said of the campaign, “No one gave us negative feedback.”
“It’s a pretty understandable situation,” she said.
There is also no legal requirement that state-elected officials who are not re-elected resign to seek another office. Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Republican Senator Doug Mastriano (Franklin County) retained their current positions in this year’s presidential election.
Mastriano will remain in Congress and seek re-election in 2024. Shapiro will remain in the office of Attorney General until he takes his oath of office on January 17. The Senate must approve his nomination.
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