Dems Flip 5 State Senate Seats

State Senator-elect Lindsey Williams

Republicans no longer hold a veto-proof, 34-to-16 majority in the Pennsylvania State Senate. Democrats hit rock bottom in 2016 but they bounced back in a big way on Tuesday.

The party netted five seats on Tuesday. The seven Democratic incumbents on the ballot won, two of 13 GOP incumbents lost, and three of five open GOP seats switched parties.

The educated suburbs were a killing field for the GOP, as incumbent Sens. Tom McGarrigle and John Rafferty went down to defeat.

Sens. Pat Browne and Tommy Tomlinson each eked out a narrow victory: Browne by 3%, Tomlinson by a mere 100 votes. Browne faced Mark Pinsley, who owns a skin care business and is a South Whitehall Township Commissioner. Tomlinson defeated State Rep. Tina Davis (who easily won re-election to her House seat on Tuesday).

The two parties will fight it out in a special election for another swing seat in the coming months. Republican Sen. Guy Reschenthaler will vacate his district in southern Allegheny County after he won the race for Congress in PA14. He flipped the seat from Dems in a special election in 2015. In fact, this will be the fourth time in a row that this district will choose a new Senator via special election.

Half of PA Senate seats come up in alternating election cycles. The state-level redistricting process, reapportionment, has been controlled by the GOP for two decades. Party leaders deliberately gave SEPA Senate districts even numbers, meaning they would coincide with midterm elections, to avoid the Democratic boost of presidential ones.

The decimation of its moderate wing means the Senate GOP Senate will be more conservative in 2019.

Here are the seats that flipped:

SD10. Sen. Chuck McIlhinney (R) decided not to seek another term in this Bucks County seat. Former State Rep. Steve Santarsiero (D) defeated State Rep. Marguerite Quinn (R) by 5 points, 52-to-47.

SD12. Sen. Stewart Greenleaf Sr. (R) is retiring from this Montgomery County seat. His son Stewart Greenleaf Jr. is an attorney who served as Montgomery County controller. Democrat Maria Collett is a nurse and former attorney. She won by 5 points, 52-to-47, with 99% of precincts reporting.

SD26. State Sen.Tom McGarrigle lost the Delaware County seat by 8 points, 54-to-46, continuing the precipitous slide of Delaware County into the Democratic fold. Architect and two-term Swarthmore Mayor Tim Kearney will take his place.

SD38. It comprises the North Hills of Allegheny County and a few precincts in the city of Pittsburgh. Education advocate and former labor organizer Lindsey Williams had the closest Democratic win of the night, a 617 vote, 0.5% margin of victory over Ross Township Commissioner Jeremy Shaffer. Shaffer defeated incumbent Randy Vulakovich in the spring. The campaign swung on Williams’ affiliation with the Democratic Socialists of America. She sought the Pittsburgh chapter’s endorsement and Shaffer’s campaign overwhelming emphasized the socialist label in TV ads, mailers and yard signs.

SD44. State Sen. John Rafferty was denied a fifth term Tuesday, losing by 5 points to Democratic challenger Kate Muth in this district split between Chester and Montgomery counties (with a bit of Berks). Muth is an adjunct professor of kinesiology and an athletic trainer at at Eastern University. She won 52-to-47.

November 7th, 2018 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Harrisburg, Top Stories | 10 Comments

10 thoughts on “Dems Flip 5 State Senate Seats”

  1. truthlives18 says:

    “The educated suburbs were a killing field for the GOP, as incumbent Sens. Tom McGarrigle and John Rafferty went down to defeat.”

    No, you liberal fools, Republican obsession with education cuts has NOTHING to do with dumbing down the electorate….

    PS – PLEASE NOTE that Shaffer and many democratic co-conspirators attacked Williams intensely since May with the socialist label – spending millions in the process- I DID NOT WORK

  2. Winston Throckmorton says:

    It is VERY clear that the outrageous redistricting turned voters off. Congressional districts looked like pretzels and with the R’s totally dominating Pa politics Dems were squeezed out. Pa was made into Alabama of the north but this could not last despite King Scarnati’s uncompromising positions on redistricting. Time is not on Senator Pat Browne’s side nor Senator Tommy Tomlinson’s side as their districts are more and more trending blue. It’s only a matter of time till Dem candidates claims these seats. Still, beneath it all and far away the biggest liability for the R’s is Scott Wagner’s candidacy’s complete collapse and eeking out Ivan Itkin type numbers.

  3. Mike says:

    Val Digiorgio gets what he deserves. He is horrendous.

  4. KDav says:

    Things pretty much went as I expected in PA. +3D for the US House. In a wave that could have been as high as +6D. In a good economy a wave was going to be tough especially with our ex-burban children emotionally tied to Trump. Funny, that is the exact behavior they used to accuse liberals of.

    Anyway, Chesco is now basically a blue county, at least the northern part of the county. This election confirmed the move of 17. Milne and Kampf both lose. Milne is actually a very good guy and, unlike the State Sen race, didn’t go into the gutter. In a different environment, he might win again.

  5. ZAKREY BISSELL says:

    I THINK FOR THE DEMOCRATS WILL FLIP ONE MORE STATE SENATE SEAT IN 2019 AND THAT IS GUY RESCHELATER’S SEAT WHEN HE’S GOING TO CONGRESS NEXT YEAR WITH STATE REPRESENTATIVE DAN MILLER.

    1. ZAKREY BISSELL says:

      JUST KIDDING, I AM GOING TO RUN FOR THAT SEAT

      1. DANtheMAN says:

        Dam Miller would be preferable to that
        whack-a-mole narcissist Michele Zimanjic…… just sayin’
        Hi Michelle ! 😉

    2. ZAKREY BISSELL says:

      I DID MADE A MISTAKE OF GUY’S NAME AND IT IS GUY RESCHENTHALER AND FOR STATE REPRESENTATIVE DAN MILLER A DEMOCRAT SHOULD RUN FOR HIS SEAT AND FLIP THAT SEAT (BLUEWAVECOMING2019).

  6. Toodles says:

    Oh, looks like Santar-zero will have another 8 years in Harrisburg to continue to pass absolutely zero legislation, as he did in the House, concentrate on furthering his own career more than helping his district in the slightest (everyone knew what the AG stint was about), and collect lots of money from hard-working taxpayers. Sad.

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