All Eyes on Allegheny County Special Elections for Control of Pa House
HARRISBURG, Pa. (ErieNewsNow) - Tonight, all eyes are on three House districts in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania. The 32nd, 34th and 35th House districts are up for grabs in three special elections that could determine who controls the lower chamber in Harrisburg.
Picking up all three seats in Democrat-leaning Allegheny County would officially give House Democrats a majority for the first time in over a decade.
“These are all staunchly Democratic seats,” said Dr. Jeffrey Bloodworth, Professor of History at Gannon University, who suspects the seats will stay blue. “Democrats will control the committees, still control the speakership. The House can function,” Bloodworth added.
Democrats won the three seats and 99 others on Nov. 8, giving them enough for a majority. However, one candidate passed away shortly before the election and two incumbents were successful in their bids for higher office. The three vacancies give House Democrats less members than Republicans, and have also sparked a months-long debate over who controls.
However, the debate, and the stalemate that has halted Harrisburg, may soon come to an end once there is a clear majority. Bloodworth says it looks good for Democrats and thinks Republicans, who need to win just one seat to prevent a Democratic majority, needed a bit more in their fight.
“For the Republicans to pull off a victory, they would need a really stellar candidate who's going to peel off some Democrats. I would have thought Republicans would have chosen one of the three, found an outstanding candidate, and gone all-in,” said Bloodworth. “None of the three jump out to me as stellar candidates, not that any of the three are particularly terrible candidates, all three seem somewhat plausible. But none of them - you'd think that they would have found one, put all their chips in the middle and tried to win one seat,” he added.
Even though the districts lean very blue, Bloodworth says that low turnout could benefit Republicans.
“If turnout is terrible, maybe Republicans have a chance. But, it's pretty doubtful,” said Bloodworth, adding that he suspects primary-level turnout. “There’s some real media attention on this, I suspect they're going to get close to probably get near that number, what a May primary would be,” he added.
Unofficial returns in the three races can be monitored here.