HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — House Democrats have been waiting for special elections to fill three vacancies that likely give them a one-seat majority. Now, the wait is over.
The special elections were held in and around Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Feb. 7. However, a return to normalcy may still be a ways off.
Allegheny County democrat Anthony DeLuca passed away. Allegheny County Democrat Summer Lee is now in Congress. Allegheny County Democrat Austin Davis is now Lt. Governor.
One county with three vacancies filled in one day.
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“I don’t ever remember having three specials in one day,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald (D).
Fitzgerald is overseeing the elections, and though he only expects a 15 percent voter turnout, he says they’re important.
“The people in these districts, the 32nd, 34th, and 35th, haven’t had representation in over a month,” Fitzgerald added.
No Pennsylvanians have been represented in the House in Harrisburg, as it still hasn’t been organized or gotten to work.
“It is a mess, and I, unfortunately, don’t think tonight’s elections will clear up the mess immediately. It also doesn’t mean the house will start functioning tomorrow,” said Dan Mallinson, a professor at Penn State Harrisburg.
Mallinson is hopeful that the special elections will set the final count in the House and be a first step out of gridlock regardless of who is speaker of the house.
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Mallinson fears the stalemate has further eroded trust in state government. “Even the optics of this, and government not functioning, I don’t think is going to be helpful for a lot of citizens or reinforce their views that Harrisburg doesn’t work.”
But election officials in Allegheny County are working and taxpayers across the Commonwealth are paying the estimated $300,000 for the elections.
“We’ll be sending that bill on to our friends in Harrisburg,” Fitzgerald concluded.
The next date to keep an eye on is Feb. 21, when the House will come back in session with the three newly elected members.