All 203 of the state’s House seats were on the ballot this year. With new legislative districts and a number of GOP incumbents not seeking reelection, Democrats succeeded in taking over the majority.
BREAKING: Nine days after Election Day, it’s finally official: Pennsylvania Democrats have the majority in the state House for the first time in 12 years.
When incumbent Republican Todd Stephens conceded Thursday afternoon to Democratic first-time candidate Melissa Cerrato in the race for the redrawn 151st legislative district (part of Montgomery County), that gave state Democrats at least 102 of the 203 House seats—all of which were on the ballot in the midterms.
That leaves one race left to be called: the contest in the 142nd legislative district (part of Bucks County) between Democrat Mark Moffa and Republican Joe Hogan. As of Thursday, the unofficial totals had Hogan ahead by 53 votes. The only ballots that remain uncounted are ones that could potentially be challenged in court by either side.
Regardless, Democrats will now control the chamber for the first time since 2010, with Rep. Joanna McClinton (Philadelphia) poised to become the first woman to serve as Speaker of the Pennsylvania House.
“Here, in the birthplace of our nation, in the birthplace of our democracy, it is much more than symbolic that we will finally have a woman that has the gavel in the Pennsylvania House,” McClinton said during a news conference last week when it first seemed like Democrats would take back the House.
It took over a week for it to become official, but the future of abortion rights and elections in the commonwealth looks brighter than it has in recent memory. The elected lawmakers in the state legislature arguably have the most impact on the day-to-day lives of Pennsylvanians. Democrats regaining control in the state House is a significant win for pro-choice and pro-democracy Pennsylvanians.
One way Democrats were able to chip away at that Republican majority was by flipping seats from Republicans who weren’t seeking reelection. Let’s take a look at how Dems fared in some of those key races:
PA House Races
Democrat Paul Friel has defeated incumbent GOP Rep. Tim Hennessey in the race for the 26th House district, which includes Chester County. Friel has 17,789 votes to Hennessey’s 13,446.
Friel is the owner of PACE Environmental, a Mid-Atlantic environmental testing and engineering firm, and is president of the Owen J. Roberts School Board.
Friel said his top priorities include equitable funding and charter school funding reform, assisting small businesses in recovering from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and environmental issues that will help spur economic growth. He also supports raising the minimum wage by small increments over time.
Democratic candidate Tim Brennan has defeated Republican Diane Smith to flip the seat left vacant by Rep. Megahan Schroeder (R), who did not seek reelection. The 29th House district includes part of Bucks County. Brennan has 20,927 votes to Smith’s 15,456.
Brennan is an attorney and is certified as a specialist in workers’ compensation law. He has represented municipal governments in the commonwealth and was appointed by the state Supreme Court as a senior hearing panel member for the Disciplinary Board. Brennan also provides pro bono representation to the LGBTQ community.
Brennan supports enacting electoral reforms such as same-day voter registration, pre-canvassing of mail-in ballots, and redistricting reform. He also supports reproductive rights, raising the minimum wage, expanding access to health care, and paid family medical leave.
Democrat Arvind Venkat has defeated Republican Cindy Kirk to flip the seat left vacant by Rep. Lori Mizgorski (R), who did not seek reelection. The 30th legislative district includes part of Allegheny County. Venkat has 18,531 votes to Kirk’s 15,045.
Venkat is an ER doctor. He also serves on the McCandless-Franklin Park Ambulance Authority. He supports reproductive rights, expanding affordable and accessible health care, protecting the environment, and expanding voting rights.
Democrat Paul Takac has defeated Republican Justin Behrens in the 82nd House district, which includes part of Centre County. Takac has 12,624 votes to Behrens’ 9,847.
Takac is a member of the College Township Council, chair of the Spring Creek Watershed Commission, and chair of the Centre Regional Council of Government’s Public Safety Committee.
Takac supports reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ equality, increasing the minimum wage to $15, unionization, and protecting the right to vote.
Democrat Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz has defeated Republican Barry Llewellyn in the 129th House district, which includes part of Berks County. Cepeda-Freytiz has 11,101 votes to Llewellyn’s 7,984.
Cepeda-Freytiz is the owner of Mi Casa Su Casa restaurant in Reading. She serves on the Reading City Council, the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance board of directors, and the board of Centro Hispano.
She supports raising the minimum wage, gun safety legislation, protecting voting rights, and property tax reform for the elderly.
Democrat Tarah Probst has defeated Republican Stephen Ertle to flip the seat left vacant by Rep. Rosemary Brown (R), who did not seek reelection. The 189th House district includes parts of Monroe and Pike counties. Probst has 11,299 votes to Ertle’s 8,953.
Probst is the mayor of Stroudsburg, the first woman to ever hold that position. She serves on the Stroud Area Regional Police Commission, the I-80 Task Force Committee, and the Council of Governments.
Probst supports comprehensive tax reform, increasing technical and skilled trades training, expanding access to health care, protecting voting rights, and campaign finance reform.