WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, Feb. 7, Democratic candidates in Pennsylvania won three special elections for state House in Allegheny County, home to Pittsburgh. With these victories, Democrats will now have a razor thin, one-vote majority in the Pennsylvania state House for the first time in 12 years.
Tuesday’s special election caps several months of confusion over who controlled the lower chamber of the Pennsylvania Legislature. After the November 2022 elections, Democrats held 102 seats, while Republicans held 101, but two members subsequently resigned, giving Republicans a nominal majority when the Legislature reconvened in January and resulting in confusion over which party controlled the lower chamber. Republican leaders and Democrats in the state House rallied around a consensus candidate and elected Rep. Mark Rozzi (D) as speaker, but further disagreements over rules led to the chamber recessing indefinitely in January. At the same time, Republicans tried to delay last night’s special elections, but a court rejected their request. With the Democratic majority now confirmed, we should expect the chamber to organize itself and begin considering legislation.
While Republicans still control the Pennsylvania state Senate, Democrats’ victory in the state House means further attempts by Republicans to restrict access to abortion or make voting more difficult are likely doomed. Senate Republicans passed an amendment to require proof of ID to vote in January, but this proposal is now unlikely to succeed in the state House.