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Pittsburgh-area elections will determine balance in Pennsylvania House

Pennsylvania is a crucial swing state, playing an important role in presidential elections and determining which party holds power in the United States Congress. Whichever party takes over in the state can make a major difference in Washington, in addition to legislating in Pennsylvania.

It is also one of only two states, besides Virginia, where the legislative chambers are divided by party.

In Harrisburg, Democrats have controlled the governor’s office since 2015, and Gov. Josh Shapiro won his first term convincingly in November 2022. Republicans, on the other hand, have had a strong hold on the Senate for decades.

Democrats won the House majority in 2022 for the first time in 12 years and by the narrowest of margins – it only took Ms. Innamorato’s resignation for the split to be even.

In May, Heather Boyd, a Democrat, won a closely watched special election in southeastern Delaware County, part of suburban Philadelphia. Top Democrats, including President Biden and Governor Shapiro, have called the contest crucial to protecting reproductive rights in Pennsylvania.

But on the same day, in a separate special election, Republicans retained a House seat in north-central Pennsylvania thanks to the triumph of Michael Stender, a school board member and firefighter.

On Tuesday, heading into the third special election of the year, Democratic candidate Ms. Powell, 32, who works in workforce development, was seen as a strong favorite, with a sizable advantage in fundraising matters.

She aimed to become the first African-American woman to represent the district, which Ms. Innamorato won in 2022 with 63% of the vote.

Republican officials acknowledged that it would be difficult for them to win this overwhelmingly Democratic district. However, Ms. Autenreith, 65, had been active during the election campaign.

Even with Ms. Powell’s victory, Pennsylvania voters could soon face another special election with enormous stakes.

If state Rep. John Galloway, a Democrat who represents a district northeast of Philadelphia, prevails in a race for district judge in November, as expected, the House would again be divided up so that another competition can take place to fill his seat.


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