Democrats flip Pa. House for first time in more than 10 years after Montgomery County win
Democrats have won their 102nd seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, enough to give them a chamber majority for the first time in more than 10 years.
Melissa Cerrato, the Democratic candidate for Montgomery County's 151st District, on Thursday said incumbent Rep. Todd Stephens had called her earlier in the day to congratulate her and concede the race. The Associated Press has already called 101 House seats for Democrats in the 203-seat chamber, and the race between Cerrato and Stephens was one of the last two still up in the air.
“I’m grateful to [Stephens] for his past service to our community and his prompt concession, ensuring the balance of power in the #PAHouse is not hung up in court,” tweeted Cerrato, who will represent a Montgomery County district in the 203-seat chamber.
In a Thursday concession post on his Facebook page, Stephens said it was the "honor of a lifetime" to serve in the House for 12 years and pledged to work with Cerrato to achieve a smooth transition. But he suggested legislative redistricting and Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee for governor who split the party's alliances, presented obstacles he couldn't surmount.
"While in years past I have been able to overcome the odds despite tremendously unpopular Republicans at the top of the ticket, the new 36% Republican district into which I was drawn, and a Gubernatorial candidate who received just 29% of the vote, proved to be too much to overcome this year," Stephens wrote.
Mastriano captured 42% of the vote statewide but just 29% in Montgomery County, according to unofficial election results.
In the remaining outstanding race, it appears Republican Joe Hogan has beaten Democrat Mark Moffa to represent the 142nd District in Bucks County, meaning Democrats will likely claim the House majority by just a single seat.
GOP lawmakers have maintained a majority of 28-22 in the Pennsylvania Senate.
Clinching a majority could empower Democrats to derail Republican initiatives on abortion and elections and give incoming Gov. Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, a better shot at advancing his agenda in the formative first years of his administration.
By last week, Democratic lawmakers had already started celebrating locking down the House and held a jubilant press conference where they credited new redistricting maps for helping their party pick up seats.
“One thing we’ve seen, after decades of gerrymandered maps, that it turns out 50% of Pennsylvania voters vote Democrat,” state Rep. Joanna McClinton, the House Democratic leader, said. “It’s an amazing thing, what a fair opportunity and fair maps and fair districts will provide.”
Democratic lawmakers anticipate McClinton will become the new House speaker, the first woman in Pennsylvania history to hold the office.