DemDaily: Pennsylvania Democrats Hold Onto House

February 15, 2024

Democrats now hold a razor-thin 102-100 majority in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, following the Tuesday election of former school board member Jim Prokopiak (D) to represent the 140th District in Bucks County.

The race tops off an unprecedented rollercoaster of electoral drama over the last 15 months, which has seen control of the Pennsylvania House vacillate between the two parties in one of the country's most critical battleground states.

Pennsylvania has a divided government. The Democratic Party controls the offices of governor and attorney general, as well as the lower chamber of the General Assembly; the office of secretary of state and the upper chamber of the Assembly are controlled by Republicans. The governor has the power to approve or veto bills passed by the Pennsylvania Legislature but his veto may be overridden by a two-thirds vote in the Assembly.

Going into the 2022 elections, Republicans held a comfortable 113-90 House majority. But the decennial redistricting and strong turnout in statewide races, including the election of Josh Shapiro as Governor, helped Democrats flip control of the Pennsylvania State House, winning 102 seats to Republicans' 101.

However, three seats that Democrats won became vacant at the start of the legislative session due to a death and two resignations to assume higher office -- effectively giving Republicans a 101-99 seat majority.

Democrats won all three Pittsburgh-area House special elections on February 7, 2023. returning them to a one-seat majority.

On July 19, 2023, Representative Sara Innamorato (D) resigned from office to run for Allegheny County Executive, reverting partisan control of the chamber to a deadlocked 101-101 tie. Lindsay Powell (D) won the September 19 special election for Innamorato's seat, returning control of the State House to Democrats.

In November 2023 Democratic state Representative John Galloway resigned to become a judge, once again deadlocking the balance of power in the state House and setting up a September 13 special election.

In the interim, on February 9, 2024, freshman Republican lawmaker Joe Adams resigned citing family medical issues, shifting the balance of power back to the Democrats.

Prokopiak's victory in Tuesday's special election to fill Galloway's seat officially cemented the Democrats' majority at 102-100. A special election for Adams' vacant seat is expected to be scheduled as early as April.

National Overview
State Democrats made history in 2022: for the first time since 1934, the party controlling the White House did not lose a single state legislative chamber.

Of the 88 state legislative chambers that held elections in 2022, Democrats held all 36 of their current chambers and flipped an additional four: the Michigan State Senate and House, the Minnesota State Senate, and the Pennsylvania State House.

Democrats also maintained their majorities in Colorado, Maine and New Mexico and won a supermajority in the Vermont State House and Nevada State Assembly, while preventing Republicans from gaining veto-proof supermajorities in the North Carolina and Wisconsin state legislatures.

Republicans maintained their narrow majority in Arizona and New Hampshire's House and Senate.

In 2023, just eight chambers were up for reelection. Democrats gained one state legislative chamber by retaking the Virginia House of Delegates while maintaining control of the State Senate.

Democrats maintained partisan control of both chambers of the New Jersey state legislature, while Republicans maintained majorities in both chambers of the Mississippi and Louisiana Legislatures.

In the national count, Democrats control 41 chambers to Republicans 57. Democrats control 44.44% of all state legislative seats nationally, while Republicans control 54.79%.

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: Ballotpedia, NPR, NCSL, WHYY, Quorum, Wiki

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