Pennsylvania statehouse Republicans are going to court to decide when special elections will be held, as leaders from both parties have taken oaths to say they’re the ones in charge.
Republican leader and the previous House Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster filed a lawsuit saying the state can’t accept Democrat leader Joanna McClinton, D-Philadelphia, setting the dates of three special elections because Democrats don’t have a true majority.
“A 101-101 tie is not a majority and that’s what the Democratic leader tried to assert,” Cutler said. “The precedent I think is very clear, the math is clearer.”
McClinton, who took the oath as majority leader in an unpublicized swearing-in last week, says she has the right because democrats won 102 seats in the 203-member body on Election Day.
Cutler called that move a “paperwork insurrection” since one of those seats was already vacant when the house term ended at the end of last month, due to the death of Rep. Anthony DeLuca, meaning, in reality, it’s 101-101 split.
Adding in the resignations last week of Rep. Austin Davis as he is set to become lieutenant governor and Rep. Summer Lee as she heads to Congress, the Republicans for the time being have a 101-99 majority.
In response to McClinton’s move, Cutler himself took the oath Monday to assume majority leadership until a speaker election is held.
“I don’t believe (the resignations) had to occur when they did,” Cutler said. “I think this was really an effort to rush to grant power and get the election scheduled as early as possible.”
If Democrats end up controlling the special election dates, all three will happen on February 7th. If it’s Republicans, the Davis and Lee elections could happen as late as the primary, which will happen sometime this spring.
With all three special election seats expected to go to Democrats, eventually giving democrats that 102-101 majority, both leaders say they are discussing how to proceed under the circumstances.
But even when Democrats take control, it won’t be carte blanche for liberals.
Rep. Frank Burns, R-Cambria, won reelection in the 72nd District where Republicans have an 18-point registration advantage and a county where Dr. Mehmet Oz won in his failed U.S. Senate race by 30 points.
Burns, who was vocal against Democrat’s Covid plans and has been a critic of a refugee plan proposed in Johnstown, could prove to be the Joe Manchin of Harrisburg as the Democrat U.S. Senator from conservative West Virginia proved pivotal to Democrat successes and failures the past two years in a 50-50 U.S. Senate.