“Instead of working cooperatively with Republican leadership to navigate the unique circumstances before us, Democrats are creating internal confusion by alleging they have a false majority that has the authority to conduct the business of the House,” Rep. Kate Klunk (R-169) wrote Wednesday in an op-ed for the Gettysburg Times.
The Nov. 8 elections resulted in Democrats winning 102 seats in the Pa. House and Republicans winning 101. However, Democrat Anthony DeLuca, the longest-serving member of the House, died in early October, bringing the new totals to 101-101. Next, two Democratic representatives—Summer Lee and Austin Davis—resigned their house seats due to winning an election for a higher office.
“So, until those seats are filled in a special election, Democrats currently have 99 members and Republicans 101. Simply put, Republicans hold a majority,” Klunk wrote.
Nevertheless, Democrat Leader Rep. Joanna McClinton (D-191) claimed a majority for the Democrats, despite the vacant seats. On Nov. 30, she tweeted: “Therefore, in my capacity beginning tomorrow as Majority Leader and Acting Speaker, I will issue a writ of election when the new session begins to do just that.”
On Dec. 7, McClinton held an unannounced ceremony where she was sworn in by a Delaware County judge. She then announced Feb. 7 as the date for elections for all three vacated seats—seats Democrats are expected to win.
According to Klunk, McClinton’s actions constituted “an illegal, unprecedented power grab to falsely claim majority of the House.” Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-100) said McClinton’s actions have forced “continued action” and “ongoing litigation over those writs.”
(Despite the tension, Republicans and Democrats did agree on a Feb. 7 date for the special election for DeLuca’s vacated seat.)
Then, on Dec. 12, Cutler was sworn-in to office as Majority Leader and, on Dec. 15, issued writs of election for the vacant House Districts.
“With the authority of a clear and undeniable majority in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and backed up by prior House precedent, Pennsylvania statute and the prior decisions of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, I am issuing these lawful writs of election to finally provide electoral certainty for the people of Allegheny County who are currently lacking representation in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives,” Cutler said on Dec. 15.
The remaining two special elections are scheduled for May 16, 2023.
“Assuming no further deaths or resignations, Republicans will hold a majority on swearing-in day and until the vacant seats are filled,” Klunk wrote.