Special elections to fill three vacancies in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives scheduled for February 7

Special elections to fill vacancies in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Districts 32, 34, and 35 are scheduled for February 7, 2023. The Allegheny County Democratic Party voted to nominate the District 32 candidate on December 11 and the District 34 and 35 candidates on December 17. The Republican Committee of Allegheny County nominated the Republican candidates on December 17.

In District 32, Joe McAndrew (D) and Clay Walker (R) are running. McAndrew is a former director of the Allegheny Democratic Committee. Walker is a pastor and Army veteran. Incumbent Anthony DeLuca (D) died on October 9, 2022. His name remained on the ballot, and he was re-elected, creating a vacancy on January 3, 2023, when members were sworn in.

In District 34, Abigail Salisbury (D) and Robert Pagane (R) are running. Salisbury is a former law professor who started her own practice. Pagane is a former law enforcement officer. Incumbent Summer Lee (D) won re-election but also won election to represent Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District. Lee resigned on December 7, 2022, in preparation for the office change.

In District 35, Matthew Gergely (D) and Don Nevills (R) are running. Gergely serves as the McKeesport chief finance officer, and formerly served as a McKeesport school board member. Nevills owned and operated a tattoo parlor and candy shop. Incumbent Austin Davis (D) won re-election but also won election as lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania. Davis resigned on December 7, 2022, in preparation for the office change.

According to CNAlysis, all three vacant districts voted for President Joe Biden (D) by margins of more than 15 percentage points in 2020.

On November 8, 2022, Democrats won 102 seats to Republicans’ 101. But because three seats that Democrats won became vacant, Republicans had a functional 101-99 seat majority going into the start of the legislative session. Under Pennsylvania law, the majority leader schedules state legislative special elections. In December 2022, Democrat Joanna McClinton scheduled the three special elections for February 7. McClinton said she was sworn in as majority leader on December 7 because Democrats won more districts on Election Day. Republican Bryan Cutler said McClinton’s swearing-in was not legitimate because Democrats did not have a majority and said he was sworn in as majority leader on December 12. House Republicans filed a lawsuit December 9 challenging the timing of the Districts 34 and 35 elections and alleging McClinton did not have the power to schedule the elections.

Both Republicans and Democrats agreed to hold the District 32 election on February 7.

On January 3, 2023, members of the chamber elected Rep. Mark Rozzi (D) as Speaker of the House with a 115-85 vote. On January 5, Rozzi issued orders affirming February 7 as the date for the Districts 34 and 35 elections. The case was pending before the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court at the time Rozzi issued his orders.

About the author

Samuel Wonacott

Samuel Wonacott is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.