Does New Battle For House Speaker Loom In Pennsylvania?
By Bob Small
Before we attempt to answer the title question, let’s give some (convoluted) history. Because there were three vacant Pennsylvania House seats (one due to a death and the others due to people having attained higher offices), the Democratic majority was challenged, of 102 seats to the Republicans’ 101 seats.
All three special elections were in Democratic Allegheny County, which voted for Joe Biden by more than 15 points. Unless there had been an upset, these seats would remain in Democratic hands.
Now, under Pennsylvania law, the majority leader schedules special elections. Democratic leader Joanna McClinton said she became majority leader on Dec. 7 because the Democrats won more districts on Nov. 8. However, there was a competing majority leader; Republican Bryan Cutler says he became majority leader on Dec. 12. Lawsuits followed, as tends to happen. On Jan. 13, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court decided that all three elections should take place on Feb. 7.
Democrat Mark Rozzi was elected Speaker of the House, as a compromise candidate with a vote of 115 to 85. On Jan. 5, he affirmed Feb 7 as the date for the District 34 and District 35 elections. Both sides had previously agreed on Feb 7 for the District 32 elections.
“Clear as mud”, as a former teacher of mine used to say. See the Ballotpedia article for further clarification.
The speaker battle is now between the Democrats McClinton and Rozzi.
Further details can be found here.
Since the Pennsylvania Democrats control the House, and the Pennsylvania GOP controls the Senate, we will either have compromise or we will have stalemate.
The Democrats, theoretically (unless there’s another change), can set the state house agenda for the first time since 2010.
Stay tuned for further developments.