Up for Grabs: 5 Races That Could Shift the Balance of Power in the Pennsylvania State Senate

A proposed Pennsylvania Senate district map is displayed during a meeting of the Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission at the Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021. The commission voted Thursday in favor of new preliminary district maps over sharp objections from the House's Republican leader about how his chamber's district lines would change. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

By Ashley Adams

October 3, 2022

There are 50 seats in the state Senate on the ballot in November. With new legislative districts and a number of GOP incumbents not seeking reelection, Democrats are taking aim at the Republican majority.

While many are focused on the outcome of the contentious races for governor and US Senate in Pennsylvania, other just as important races in the state House and Senate will also help determine the state’s political future.

The elected lawmakers in the state House and Senate arguably have the most impact on the day-to-day lives of Pennsylvanians. The makeup of the state legislature is crucial in determining the future of such issues as abortion rights and elections in the commonwealth. 

Half of the state Senate seats are up for reelection in November. Republicans have controlled the Senate for the past 27 years. But with new legislative districts and a number of incumbents not seeking reelection, the potential for Democrats to chip away at the GOP majority is a real possibility. 

And it could be realized in the following senatorial districts:

6th District

Republican Sen. Robert Tomlinson currently represents the 6th senatorial district, which includes part of Bucks County. Tomlinson plans to retire after his current term, which leaves Democrat  Ann Marie Mitchell to face Republican Frank Farry in the November election.

Mitchell is an experienced business attorney who lives in Northampton Twp., Bucks County. She supports reproductive rights, creating affordable healthcare options, reducing the cost of prescription medication, and expanding ballot access.

Farry currently is a state representative representing the 142nd legislative district which includes part of Bucks County. He has served in that capacity since 2008. He serves as chair of the Human Services and Consumer Affairs committees.

Over the course of his legislative career, he has advanced legislation that designated cancer as an occupational disease for firefighters, established the Safe2Say Program in schools, and he championed public safety measures to require carbon monoxide alarms in multi-family dwellings and prevent minors from the dangers of indoor tanning.

14th District

Independent Sen. John Yudichak currently represents the 14th senatorial district, which includes Carbon County and part of Luzerne County. Yudichak’s district was moved to another part of the state in redistricting, preventing him from seeking reelection.

In the newly redrawn district maps, the 14th district now includes part of Lehigh and Northampton counties. Democratic candidate Nick Miller faces Republican Dean Browning in the November election.

Miller is vice president of the Allentown School Board and also serves on the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. His top priorities are fighting for equitable school funding and strengthening our economy by fighting for small businesses and expanding economic opportunities as well as keeping families and communities safe.

Browning is a former Lehigh County Commissioner. He is also a self-proclaimed “unapologetic MAGA Republican.” He was caught up in controversy on Twitter in 2020 when he reportedly posed as a gay black man who supported former President Donald Trump. Browning has also spread misinformation about the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Browning is anti-abortion, supports strict voting laws such as requiring voter ID, and is against gun control measures.

24th District

Republican Sen. Bob Mensch currently represents the 24th senatorial district, which includes parts of Berks, Bucks, and Montgomery counties. Mensch plans to retire after his current term. 

In the newly redrawn district maps, the 24th district now includes part of Berks and Montgomery counties. Democratic candidate Jill Dennin faces Republican Tracy Pennycuick in the November election.

Dennin has served on the Boyertown Area School District school board, the Pennsylvania School Board Association’s Legislative Advisory Council, and the Berks County Intermediate Unit’s Council on Legislative Action. 

Dennin supports property tax relief, improving charter and cyber school accountability, fair and equitable education funding, and improving the state’s infrastructure.

Pennycuick currently is a state representative representing the 147th legislative district, which includes part of Montgomery County. She has served in that capacity since 2020. While in office, she has worked to pass a budget that fully-funded the state’s school districts and pushed for legislation that reforms the state lobbying practices.

Pennycuick is a US Army veteran, serving as a Blackhawk pilot and earning the bronze star. After the Army, she started a small business in the aviation services industry.

34th District

Longtime Republican Sen. Jake Corman currently represents the 34th senatorial district, which includes Centre, Juniata, and Mifflin counties, and part of Huntingdon County. Corman did not seek reelection. 

In the newly redrawn district maps, the 34th district now includes Perry County and parts of Cumberland and Dauphin counties. Democratic candidate Jim Massey faces Republican Greg Rothman in the November election.

Massey is a retired US Army veteran. He worked for over 20 years with the Pennsylvania Department of Education, where he served as the state administrator for the Summer Food Program and Childcare Food Program.

Massey supports reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ rights, voting rights, and improving the commonwealth’s infrastructure.

Rothman currently is a state representative representing the 87th legislative district, which includes part of Cumberland County. He has served in that capacity since 2015. 

While in office, Rothman has supported anti-abortion legislation and voted against gun control bills. He was against Wolf administration mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic.


40th District

Republican Sen. Mario Scavello currently represents the 40th senatorial district, which includes parts of Monroe and Northampton counties. Scavello did not seek reelection due to health issues.

In the newly redrawn district maps, the 40th district now includes Monroe County and part of Lackawanna and Wayne counties. Democratic candidate Jennifer Shukaitis faces Republican Rosemary Brown in the November election.

Shukaitis is a Stroud Township supervisor and also serves on the boards of the Brodhead Watershed Association, Stroud Regional Open Space and Recreation Commission, and the Act 137 Monroe County Housing Authority Board. She is vice chair of the Monroe County Democratic Committee and vice president of the Monroe County Democratic Honorary Society.

If elected, Shukaitis said her primary focus will be on preserving and expanding voter rights, school tax reform, healthcare access, economic development, and environmental preservation.

Brown currently is a state representative, representing the 189th legislative district, which includes part of Monroe and Pike counties. She has served in that capacity since 2011. She is chair of the Urban Affairs Committee. While in office, Brown has addressed concerns over Lyme Disease and supported laws to help residents of Homeowners’ Associations. 

If elected to the Senate, Brown said she would work to cut the state’s corporate income tax, ensure a fair and predictable regulatory system, and improve the state’s support of Pennsylvania entrepreneurs.


  • Ashley Adams

    In her 16 years in the communications industry, Ashley Adams has worn many hats, including news reporter, public relations writer, marketing specialist, copy editor and technical writer. Ashley grew up in Berks County and has since returned to her roots to raise her three children.

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