Pennsylvania GOP House Leader Cutler Asserts Right to Schedule Special Elections for May

Pennsylvania House Republican Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Quarryville) on Thursday insisted he has the right to schedule special elections for three legislative vacancies. He wants two elections to take place during next May’s primaries. 

Cutler’s party has tussled with Democrats over control of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in the wake of November’s elections. Democrats won a majority of House seats that month, but Republican members nonetheless outnumber Democrats by two insofar as three seats to which the latter party won elections are vacant. 

State Representative Anthony DeLuca (D-Pittsburgh) died before winning re-election, while Representatives Austin Davis (D-Pittsburgh) and Summer Lee (D-Pittsburgh) resigned from their House seats earlier this month so they could respectively become lieutenant governor and congresswoman. 

Cutler and Philadelphia Democrat Joanna McClinton claim majority-leader status, and both assert the right to schedule special elections to fill DeLuca, Davis, and Lee’s contiguous seats. Both have issued writs of election for the contest to replace DeLuca to be held on February 7. 

But McClinton also wants Davis and Lee’s replacement elections to take place on that date. In contrast, Cutler wants them to occur during the May primary — a decision that he noted would be less costly for Allegheny County as it oversees those elections. Both leaders have issued writs of election for those seats, and the state judiciary is all but certain to determine whose writs will be followed. 

“In order to avoid confusion [and] in order to save the county money for those two remaining seats, we did pick the primary day for those two elections,” Cutler told reporters in the Capitol Building in Harrisburg. 

Should McClinton get her way, Republicans will enjoy an even shorter time with a House majority because those three districts are heavily favored to reelect Democrats. State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia) called the Republican push to schedule the elections a “travesty.” 

“Because these three safe Democratic seats still need a representative to replace them, the Republicans have continued their anti-democratic agenda and are challenging Joanna issuing the writ[s] of elections,” he said in a Twitter video. “As you might imagine, they want those elections to not be held as quickly as possible; they want them to be held as late as possible, giving Republicans a mirage majority in the state House while voters are champing at the bit to have representation in Harrisburg in three safe Democratic areas.” 

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Pennsylvania Daily Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].



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