Democrats Clinch PA State House For First Time In 10+ Years

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Although indications previously pointed that direction, Democrats have now more officially taken control of the state House in Pennsylvania for the first time in over 10 years. Republicans won control of the chamber in the 2008 elections, and they hadn’t lost it since.

In a final race where Democrats needed to prevail to nab a majority, the party’s candidate has ended up ahead (by fewer than 60 votes), and the Republican has conceded. (There’s another state House race where Democrats could have won to secure the majority, but that race remains uncalled.) In the 151st district, Democratic contender Melissa Cerrato won after earlier results, even days after the election, showed her behind by dozens of votes. (Some 33,500 were cast in the race overall.) In the other, unfinished state House race, the Republican was leading as of Saturday afternoon.

Although it may be beset by early problems with vote counts because of issues including one technically victorious candidate who has actually died, Democratic control of the Pennsylvania state House will help the party legislatively, even without concurrent control by the party of the state Senate. Amendments to the state Constitution in Pennsylvania can be passed with support from legislators and voters — and without the opportunity for the governor, who will be Democrat Josh Shapiro after this year’s winners are seated, to exercise any veto power. Now, Republicans in state legislative roles will be significantly impeded in such attempts to further their agenda in policy areas from abortion access to the handling of elections.

The party was already set to face impediments in initiatives in which the governor can exercise substantive input, considering the partisan split across Pennsylvania state government. Outgoing Democratic Governor Tom Wolf already vetoed potentially suppressive proposals passed by the legislature dealing with elections in Pennsylvania. Democrats were also successful on the state legislative level in other states, including Michigan, where the party flipped control of the state Senate for the first time since the early 1980s and secured unified control of the state’s governorship and legislature. Back in Pennsylvania, Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman prevailed against Trump-backed candidate Mehmet Oz, aka Dr. Oz, despite polls in the final weeks of the race showing it suddenly closer.