HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — For the 205th time in Pennsylvania history, lawmakers were sworn-in at the state Capitol. But this was one for the record books, as the senate fought over a contested Senate seat and Republicans took control of the chamber away from the Lieutenant Governor.
“The chair does not find that in order,” Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman said on Tuesday.
There was much out of order on day one in the Senate. Democrats angry that Senator Jim Brewster wasn’t sworn in. Republicans angry at Lt. Governor Fetterman and oust him.
“I call upon [Lt. Governor Fetterman] to vacate the chair,” state Senator Ryan Aument insisted off camera.
Senator Pro Tempore Jake Corman took the gavel and took control of the situation, beginning the process to swear in members. Philly Democrat Anthony Williams, off-camera, loses it.
“I think my job is fairness,” Corman said. “So that is why we want to make sure all parties are heard from that all the facts are given so they can make a decision and that we proceed in a way everyone has a chance to be heard.”
“Nothing about this day that’s appropriate. We will not lay down and roll over because you have more people on that side of the aisle,” Williams said.
Brewster, the Democrat incumbent representing Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties, defused the situation by willingly leaving the rostrum. He still believes he won and will be sworn in.
“Am I to believe today, that the next election, if they don’t like who won, they just don’t swear them in? I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to work,” Brewster said.
Brewster’s Republican challenger Nicole Ziccarelli was in Harrisburg, as well.
“It’s all theatrics. It’s very very simple,” Ziccarelli said. “There are 311 ballots in Allegheny County that were undated, they should not have been counted. When those ballots are set aside I won the election by 24 votes.”
Beyond the controversy, it was Ladies Day under the dome: Kim Ward, the first woman Majority Leader in the Senate. Joanna McClinton, the first African American woman to lead the House Minority.
Representative John Galloway, a Democrat representing Bucks County, says the female leadership in state government is long overdue.
“Not having a woman in 300 years of this body was embarrassing. We needed to fix it and we needed to get it done now and Joanna is perfect,” Galloway said.
Perfect was hard to find on an otherwise imperfect day. Luckily, the Senate will have time to cool off. They’re not back until Jan 25.
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