Speed Reads

Special Elections

Pennsylvania elections leave Democrats in narrow control of state House amid abortion fight

Pennsylvania voters on Tuesday kept the state House in Democratic control, advanced a Black woman as Philadelphia's likely 100th mayor, and blocked a Republican judge who halted certification of President Biden's 2020 victory from a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, among other election results

Democrats flipped 12 state House seats in the 2022 elections, giving them a one-vote majority in the lower chamber, but control of the legislature was once more up in the air when state Rep. Mike Zabel (D) resigned after a lobbyist accused him of sexual harassment. Democrat Heather Boyd won Tuesday's special election to fill Zabel's seat in a previously Republican bellwether district north of Philadelphia, defeating Republican Katie Ford. 

Republican Michael Stender won a safe conservative House seat in a second special election Tuesday, keeping the central Pennsylvania district in GOP hands, but Boyd's win gives Democrats the opportunity to block a Republican push to put abortion limits before voters in a referendum. The race was important enough that Biden stepped in to endorse Boyd, saying the race "will determine the future of so many fundamental freedoms that Pennsylvanians hold dear."

In Philadelphia, former city councilor and state legislator Cherelle Parker won a nine-person race for the Democratic mayoral nomination. Parker, 50, is widely expected to beat Republican nominee David Oh in the heavily Democratic city, making her the first woman elected to lead Philadelphia. She was the only Black candidate among the five Democrats with a shot a the nomination, and campaigned on putting more cops on the street. Mayor Jim Kenny, who can't seek reelection due to term limits, did not endorse anyone in the primary but said he voted for Parker.

Both parties also selected their candidates for a state Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Chief Justice Max Baer last fall. Democrats, who currently hold a 4-2 majority on the seven-member court, selected Superior Court Judge Daniel McCaffery over fellow Superior Court Judge Deborah Kunselman. Republicans, meanwhile, nominated Montgomery County Judge Carolyn Carluccio over Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough. McCullough had ordered a halt to the certification of the 2020 election after Biden beat former President Donald Trump in the swing state. Both McCaffery and Carluccio were backed by their respective state party.