Jeff Fuentes Gleghorn
Three special elections will be held in 2023 to fill seats left vacant after the November election. Democrats won a one seat majority in November, but two members resigned last week in order to take a different public office. One other member, Representative Tony DeLuca, died of cancer in October. It was too late to take his name off the ballot, and DeLuca won the election, leaving the seat vacant going into the new year.
Before the last legislative session ended on November 30, Representative Ryan Cutler (R., Lancaster), who was Speaker of the House at the time, attempted to schedule a special election for Rep. DeLuca’s seat for February 7. The Pennsylvania State Department informed Cutler that he was not allowed to schedule a special election for that date.
On Wednesday, Representative Joanna McClinton (D., Philadelphia) had herself sworn in as the presiding officer of the House, citing a 2004 precedent where a Republican was sworn in early to schedule special elections for the following year. McClinton is the Democratic nominee for Speaker of the House in next year’s session. She used her authority as presiding officer to schedule three special elections for February 7, 2023.
Republicans have objected to the move, calling it a “paperwork insurrection,” and sued to stop the special elections from happening. Representative Cutler has scheduled competing special elections to be held on May 16. May is the latest that special elections are allowed to be scheduled under these circumstances.
Each of the three special elections is a must-win for both parties. Democrats only won a one seat majority in November, meaning that if any of the races flip this time, they will lose their majority. All three districts are historically safe for Democrats. Spotlight PA reports that a Republican has not won in any of these districts for nearly four decades.