State Rep. Joanna McClinton (D) will likely become the first black woman to serve as Speaker of the Pennsylvania House after Democrats unexpectedly won a majority in the chamber.
Democrats have flipped the Pennsylvania state House of Representatives and unexpectedly gained control of the Legislature for the first time in a decade.
The Associated Press confirmed that Democrats had turned over 12 seats Saturday, enough to hold a narrow majority in the state house, when they called one last pending race for Democratic nominee Melissa Cerrato.
Despite the result, three seats will soon be vacant because two members of the Democratic state house won elections to other offices in November while a third died. That could bring Republicans back into the majority, at least until special elections are held to fill the seats.
As in Michigan, where Democrats won majorities in both the House and Senate, the party attributed its victories to fairer legislative plans that limited the power of Republican gerrymandering efforts — though Pennsylvania doesn’t use the kind of independent redistribution commission that the Voters in Michigan adopted in 2018.
“One thing we’ve seen after decades of map rigging is that it turns out 50% of Pennsylvania voters are voting for Democrats,” said Rep. Joanna McClinton (D), who will likely be the first black woman to vote will serve as campaign spokeswoman Pennsylvania House, local TV station WHYY said the day after the election. “It’s an amazing thing. It’s amazing what a fair opportunity and fair cards and fair quarter provide.”
The shocking victory also suggests that Roe v. Wade through the Supreme Court has strongly motivated voters to oppose Republicans, particularly in contested states where Democrats have argued that the future of abortion rights is on the ballot.
Democrats will regain control of the House of Representatives for the first time since 2011. Republicans will continue to control the state Senate.
Pennsylvania House Democrats originally declared victory on November 9, when it was clear that the party had won 99 of the state’s 203 seats. Three others in the Philadelphia suburbs stayed close with ballots still counted, but party leaders were confident they would win all three to earn a 102-101 majority in the chamber.
Entering the 2022 midterm elections, the state Democrats had to swap 12 seats to take away the Republicans’ majority in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. They were confident that high-profile races for the U.S. Senate and governor would help them eat into the GOP’s margins, but flipping the chamber was viewed as a longer attempt than similar efforts to seize control of the Michigan legislature and to win Arizona.
However, the States Project, a progressive group focused on state legislatures, poured money into Pennsylvania to promote candidates in key races. The group saw secession in the GOP majority as a way to shield the 2024 presidential election from possible Republican efforts to undermine it — as some GOP lawmakers in the state, including Republican nominee for governor Doug Mastriano, after former President Donald, have done attempted Trump’s defeat in 2020.
The effort gained even more momentum, States Project research director Aaron Kleinman told HuffPost ahead of the election when the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that could give state legislatures more powers to challenge or overturn future election results .
Democrats still have to compromise with the GOP-controlled Pennsylvania Senate, but they could use the House of Representatives to advance key priorities, including efforts to expand voting rights and protect access to abortion.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) won the race to become the state’s next governor.