UNITED STATES NEWS

Democrats keep Pennsylvania House majority, positioning party to prevent limits on abortion rights

May 15, 2023, 10:01 PM | Updated: May 16, 2023, 7:50 pm

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Democrats maintained their narrow Pennsylvania House majority Tuesday by winning a special election and along with it continued control over how the chamber will handle abortion, gun rights and election law legislation.

Heather Boyd won a seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives representing the Philadelphia suburbs, beating Republican Katie Ford for a vacancy created by the resignation of Democratic Rep. Mike Zabel. Zabel quit the Legislature in March, shortly after a lobbyist accused him of sexually harassing her.

Boyd’s win gives Democrats 102 seats, the minimum needed to control the agenda in the 203-member House. The state Senate has a Republican majority.

The Democrats’ victory in the Delaware County district means first-term Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro will have at least one chamber to aid his agenda going into the final month of budget negotiations. The result could also affect a proposed constitutional amendment limiting abortion rights that legislative Republicans are one House floor vote away from putting before voters as a referendum.

Boyd is a former congressional and state legislative aide. Her district was once Republican but has given solid margins to Democratic candidates in recent elections.

Republicans entered the 2022 election with a 113-90 advantage in the state House, but Democrats flipped a net of 12 seats, barely enough to claim majority status after 12 years and elect one of their own as speaker.

Republican Michael Stender won a special election for a vacant central Pennsylvania seat. Stender, a Shikellamy school board member, firefighter and former EMT, was endorsed by former Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver, the Republican who represented the district before winning a state Senate special election earlier this year. Stender beat Democrat Trevor Finn, a Montour County commissioner. The district also includes part of Northumberland County.

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Associated Press writers Nicholas Riccardi in Denver and Marc Levy in Harrisburg contributed to this report.

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Democrats keep Pennsylvania House majority, positioning party to prevent limits on abortion rights