Democrats Look to Maintain Control of the PA House in Special Election

In this Nov. 10, 2020, file photo, a bicyclist passes a "Count Our Votes" sign near the Allegheny County Election Division Warehouse on Pittsburgh's Northside, where votes were continue to be counted from the Nov. 3, 2020 general election. A Republican proposal made public on Thursday, June 10, 2021, would revamp Pennsylvania election law to affect deadlines, early voting and mail-in ballots and require ID for all in-person voters. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

By Sean Kitchen

September 12, 2023

The special election to replace former State Rep. Sara Innamorato is on Sept. 19. Lindsay Powell, the Democratic nominee, will face off against someone who attended Jan 6 and spreads vaccine misinformation.

Voters in Allegheny County get to decide if Democrats retain control of the House in next week’s special election to fill the House seat left vacant by former State Rep. Sara Innamorato. The election will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 19.

Innamorato resigned from the House in July to focus on her campaign for Allegheny County Executive. The district should be a safe seat for the Democrats if their voters turn out, and they should retain their one seat majority as they go back into session on Sept. 26.

Democrats nominated Lindsey Powell for the vacant House seat. Following Congresswoman Summer Lee (D-Allegheny) and State Rep. La’Tasha Mayes (D-Allegheny), Powell would become the third black woman from Western Pennsylvania to ever serve in the General Assembly and she would become the first to serve the 21st House District.

As reported by WESA, Powell works at InnovatePGH and serves on the Urban Redevelopment Authority. She has also worked for former Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, US Rep Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York) and US Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York).

Allegheny County Republicans, on the other hand, have nominated Erin Connolly Autenrieth, who was in Washington DC for Jan. 6th and has a questionable social media record when it comes to posting about vaccines and the pandemic.

Autenrieth explained on social media why she attended the insurrection, saying, “There is only one person who has stood up to Pedophilia, Sex Trafficking of Children and Satanic Worship and it is Donald J Trump.”

She went on to write, “You can hate him for tweets, money, playboy lifestyle, but he is the only Leader who has ever addressed the ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM, which most of us do not have the stomach to talk about or even think about.”

Other social media posts include Autenrieth sharing a Q-Anon video called “Q The Plan To Save The World” and a Daily Wire article claiming that a Chinese scientist who was on the verge of significant coronavirus findings was murdered in Pittsburgh.

WESA asked Autenrieth about her whereabouts in DC on Jan. 6th.

“We went for [Trump’s] speech and we stayed there, and then we got back on the bus. We were nowhere near the Capitol. We had no idea what was going on,” she said.

According to the local reporting, Allegheny County Republicans faced difficulties in finding a candidate for the special election due to issues with the party’s bylaws.

The local party didn’t have enough time to interview potential candidates, and according to Allegheny County Republican Chair Sam DeMarco, Autenrieth “is the one who saved the day.”



  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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