Pennsylvania to hold special elections to determine control of state House

Pennsylvania will hold special elections to fill vacancies in House Districts 108 and 163 on May 16, 2023. Democrats currently have a 101-100 majority, and the results of these elections will determine majority control of the chamber. If Democrats win one special election, they will keep their majority in the chamber. Republicans would win the majority if they won both special elections.

Trevor Finn (D), Michael Stender (R), and Elijah Scretching (L) are running in District 108 to succeed Schlegel Culver. Finn is a Montour County commissioner. He said his campaign platforms were “economic development, [advancing] the cause of all citizens, and protecting our small town heritage.” Stender is an at-large member of the Shikellamy School Board. Stender’s campaign website says, “he supports American energy independence, backs our workers and small businesses and works to bring fiscal responsibility to state government.” Scretching is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. He said, “I love my family, my state, and my country, and I’m ready to continue serving.” 

Heather Boyd (D), Katie Ford (R), and Alfe Goodwin (L) are running to succeed Michael Zabel (D) in District 163. Boyd worked as the district director for U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D). Boyd said she is running “to make sure that every person and family in our district gets the resources and representation they deserve. … [I] will fight for laws and budgets that serve the district.” Ford is a special needs instructor. Ford said one of her priorities “will be to fight for the increased funding needed to properly educate our children, including those with special needs. … Public safety, adequate funding, and training for law enforcement will also be a top priority.” Goodwin previously worked as a police officer. She was a brigade command chaplain and founded Follow Your Bliss LLC. She said, “This is a wonderful opportunity for voters to take a second look and re-consider not only who we vote for but why we vote in the first place.” 

According to CNalysis, Donald Trump (R) would have won District 108 in the 2020 presidential election 65% to 33%, while Joe Biden (D) would have won District 163 62% to 37%. District 108 includes all of Montour County and part of Northumberland County. District 163 includes part of Delaware County. 

In Pennsylvania’s 2022 U.S. Senate election, Mehmet Oz (R) carried Montour and Northumberland counties 55% to 41% and 64% to 33%, respectively, while John Fetterman (D) carried Delaware County 63% to 35%. 

Pennsylvania House Democrats won 102 seats to Republicans’ 101 as a result of the 2022 elections. Three Democratic representatives left office after those elections, giving Republicans a functional 101-99 seat majority to start the 2023 legislative session. Democratic candidates then won special elections in all three vacant districts on Feb. 7, 2023, giving the party a 102-101 majority until Zabel resigned in District 163.

Pennsylvania is one of 11 states with a divided government. Democrats are the majority in the state house, and Gov. Josh Shapiro is a Democrat. Republicans control the state senate.

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