Democrats Gain Majority in State House After Sweeping 3 Seats in Allegheny County Special Elections

Legislators of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives stand before they are sworn-in, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. The ceremony marks the convening of the 2023-2024 legislative session of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania. (AP Photo/Matt Smith)

By Ashley Adams

February 7, 2023

Democrats have officially taken over the majority in the state House after winning all three Allegheny County seats Tuesday, which means the future of abortion rights and elections in the commonwealth looks brighter than it has in recent memory.

It’s finally official: Pennsylvania Democrats have the majority in the state House after landslide victories in all three seats up for grabs in a special election Tuesday in Allegheny County.

Democrats had to win all three seats to hold on to their one-seat majority. Each of the seats had been held by Democrats for about 40 years, with voters supporting them by significant margins.

Democrats won 102 seats in the November election, but one of their reelected incumbents, Rep. Tony DeLuca (D-Allegheny), died of cancer in October and the other two seats were left vacant when Austin Davis was elected lieutenant governor and Summer Lee was elected to the US House.

The three vacancies left Republicans with a temporary 101-99 majority, but the GOP recently lost a member after Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver of Northumberland County won a state Senate special election last month to fill the 27th district seat left vacant by John Gordner, a Republican who resigned mid-term to become a Senate lawyer.

With the majority, Democratic lawmakers will be able to vote down a proposed constitutional amendment banning abortions in the state, pass legislation to raise the minimum wage, and protect voting rights. Other long-stalled issues, such as the statewide decriminalization of recreational marijuana, might also begin to gain traction with a Dem-majority House.

Here are the results of Tuesday’s special election:

32nd District 

Democrat Joe McAndrew has defeated Republican Clay Walker in the race for the 32nd House district, which includes the communities of Penn Hills, Oakmont, Verona, and a sliver of Plum. McAndrew has 5,512 votes to Walker’s 668.

McAndrew of Penn Hills serves as the chair of the Penn Hills Democratic Committee and is a former executive director of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee. He worked on the 2022 campaign for US Rep. Chris Deluzio (D-Allegheny) and also worked for former Democratic House Minority Leader Frank Dermody.

McAndrew supports raising the minimum wage, protecting reproductive rights, ending gun violence, LGBTQ+ rights, and equitable school funding. He has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania.

Democrats Gain Majority in State House After Sweeping 3 Seats in Allegheny County Special Elections
State Rep. Joe McAndrew (D-Allegheny).

34th District

Democrat Abigail Salisbury has defeated Republican Robert Pagane in the race for the 34th House district, which includes the communities of Wilkinsburg, Edgewood, Swissvale, Churchill, and North Braddock. Salisbury has 5,058 votes to Pagane’s 373.

Salisbury of Swissvale runs a law firm that focuses on smaller nonprofits and advocacy groups and currently serves on the Swissvale Borough Council. She is the former director of JURIST.org, a legal news and commentary organization hosted by the University of Pittsburgh’s law school.

Salisbury’s priorities are bringing resources back to the district, supporting entrepreneurs, investing in public education, and funding infrastructure that can adapt to climate change. She has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania.

Democrats Gain Majority in State House After Sweeping 3 Seats in Allegheny County Special Elections
State Rep. Abigail Salisbury (D-Allegheny)

35th District

Democrat Matthew Gergely has defeated Republican Don Nevills in the race for the 35th House district, which includes the communities of McKeesport, Clairton, Duquesne, Homestead, Munhall, and White Oak. Gergely has 3,285 votes to Nevills’ 424.

Gergely is McKeesport’s finance director and previously served as city administrator and as a McKeesport Area School District official. He has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania.

Democrats Gain Majority in State House After Sweeping 3 Seats in Allegheny County Special Elections
State Rep. Matt Gergely (D-Allegheny)

Gergely’s brother Marc was the last person to represent the district before Davis, serving for more than a decade before he resigned in 2017 due to a scandal involving an illegal gambling ring.

Do you know who represents you in Harrisburg? Find out here.

Author

  • 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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