Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives had been tied at 101-101 because a Democrat, Sara Innamorato, stepped down, so the stakes in yesterday’s special election were high.
Control of the House? Yes. But made even more important by the fact that Republicans control the State Senate. Republicans had hoped for an upset, gaining control of the legislature with only a Democratic governor standing in the way.
Luckily, Lindsay Powell, the Democrat, won —easily. She beat Republican Erin Connolly Autenreith, 65%-34%.
Pennsylvania is incredibly important on a national level, too. It is a purple state (quite obviously), and it’s a big state in terms of population, with two sprawling urban areas in Philadephia and Pittsburg, along with many mid-sized small cities.
If you want to be president, you really want to win Pennsylvania.
This is increasingly true in times like these, when elections for president can’t even be taken as a given.
It is also one of only two states in which the legislatures are split, along with Virginia, so there is a symbolic aspect of the election that really shouldn’t be ignored.
It wasn’t the only special election this year, and you’ll never guess the issue that framed both elections. From The New York Times report:
“In May, Heather Boyd, a Democrat, won a closely watched special election in southeast Delaware County, part of the Philadelphia suburbs. Top Democrats, including President Biden and Governor Shapiro, had framed the contest as crucial to protecting reproductive rights in Pennsylvania.”
Obviously, the issue has to be nationalized. It is very hard to tell where the line is with respect to abortion availability, it’s certainly necessary in order to save the life of the mother, certainly when the fetus is so deformed that it won’t live — but whether the cutoff point for the availability of the procedure is viability or 15 weeks, that’s tough, and thoughts differ.
But the Republicans have so overplayed their hand here in trying to nationalize an abortion ban, passing total abortion bans in states, and arresting women who seek an abortion.
It has motivated a voting base, and they’re showing up. For Democrats.
To be fair, this was a fairly solid Democratic district but Republicans did put a special charge into it trying to pull off a surprising victory to gain control of the House.
Nope. Congratulations to the people of Pennsylvania!
Another MAJOR Dem Win!
Democrat Lindsay Powell just won her special election for the Pennsylvania State House.
Here’s what makes this so huge:
Powell’s win puts Democrats back in control of the Pennsylvania House with a narrow majority. pic.twitter.com/PI2RppsHK6
— MeidasTouch (@MeidasTouch) September 20, 2023
BREAKING: Democrat Lindsay Powell is now the projected winner of the Pennsylvania District 21 special election. This gives Democrats control of Pennsylvania House.
This is an important win for Democrats in the state. She is the first Black woman to be nominated in her district.… pic.twitter.com/NITjLXryK6
— Ed Krassenstein (@EdKrassen) September 20, 2023
This column is based on original reporting by David Chen of The New York Times.
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Editor’s note: This is an opinion column that solely reflects the opinions of the author.
Jason Miciak is an associate editor and opinion writer for Occupy Democrats. He's a Canadian-American who grew up in the Pacific Northwest. He is a trained attorney, but for the last five years, he's devoted his time to writing political news and analysis. He enjoys life on the Gulf Coast as a single dad to a 15-year-old daughter. Hobbies include flower pots, cooking, and doing what his daughter tells him they're doing. Sign up to get all of my posts by email right here: