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PA House Leadership Race Chatter

Now that the 2020 elections are *mostly* over, we can shift our focus onto the internal elections in the state capitol. 

House Republicans announced their leadership team for the upcoming session on Tuesday afternoon, while the three other caucuses have delayed their vote due to a few outstanding races, according to the Pennsylvania Capital-Star

While some votes took place today and some may even be pushed back to next week, let’s take a look at the chatter of who may be gunning for which position within their caucus. After conversations with several sources off the record, here are the names we’ve heard that have interest in leadership positions. 

1. House Republican Caucus Results.

On Tuesday afternoon, House Republican leadership announced that one member of leadership will be moved to a new position, as they also welcome one new member. State Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) is the newest member of the House Republican Caucus leadership and will serve as the Caucus Secretary, taking over for State Rep. Mike Reese (R-Westmoreland). Reese was elevated to succeed state Rep. Marcy Toepel (R-Montgomery) as Caucus Chair. Speaker Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) was formally nominated by the House GOP caucus as Speaker once again, while Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre), Majority Whip Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion), Appropriations Committee Chairman Stan Saylor (R-York), and Majority Policy Committee Chair Marty Causer (R-Potter) all remain in their positions in leadership. 

2. House Democratic Caucus Chatter. 

All eyes are on House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny) as he trails in his reelection bid for the 33rd House District against GOP challenger Carrie DelRosso by 923 votes, as of Tuesday morning, according to data from the DOS. While Dermody’s race has yet to be called, jockeying is currently taking place among Democrats (specifically in the southeast) to see who would take his place. The four Democrats that have been mentioned as having interest in this role include Whip Jordan Harris (D-Phila), ranking Appropriations Committee Matt Bradford (D-Montgomery), Caucus Chairperson Joanna McClinton (D-Phila), and State Government Committee Chair Kevin Boyle (D-Phila). 

While the race for Minority Leader will garner the most attention, several other Democrats are aiming to take positions within the caucus. The Pennsylvania Capital Star’s Stephen Caruso tweeted out the following list of Democrats that are interested in leadership roles in addition to Reps. Bradford, Boyle, Harris and McClinton: Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster), Dan Miller (D-Allegheny), Ryan Bizzarro (D-Erie), Austin Davis (D-Allegheny), Chris Rabb (D-Phila), Liz Fiedler (D-Phila), Patty Kim (D-Dauphin), Ed Gainey (D-Allegheny), Leanne Krueger (D-Delaware), Margo Davidson (D-Delaware), and Mike Schlossberg (D-Lehigh). 

If McClinton moved up to Minority Leader, a battle would ensue for House Minority Caucus Chair. Some names that have been mentioned as being interested in the role if McClinton no longer held it were Reps. Davidson, Krueger, and Miller, although others may join to make a bid as well. 

If Bradford moved up to Minority Leader, sources say that Reps. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) and Krueger would be interested in his role as the ranking member of the Appropriations Committee. 

Sturla holds the position as House Democratic Policy Committee Chair, and although the Pennsylvania Capital-Star reports that he is expected to run for his current position, other names being floated as being interested have included Reps. Bizzarro, Fiedler, and Schlossberg, although more sources have said that Schlossberg is interested in succeeding retiring Rep. Neal Goodman (D-Schuylkill) as Caucus Administrator. Sources have added that in addition to Schlossberg being interested in Caucus Administrator others include Bizzarro and Patty Kim (D-Dauphin). A bevy of names have been floated as having interest in succeeding Rep. Rosita Youngblood (D-Phila) as Caucus Secretary including Reps. Fiedler, Kinsey (D-Phila), Kim, Krueger, and Rabb. 

3. Senate Republican Caucus Chatter. 

Sen. Joe Scarnati’s (R-Jefferson) retirement has led to Senate President Pro Tempore being up for grabs among Republicans in Harrisburg. Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-Centre) enters as the favorite to climb up the ladder and succeed Scarnati, although this isn’t a lock quite yet. The Caucus reported that Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) is making a bid for the position, and criticized Corman for connections with consulting firms and special interest groups. 

Meanwhile a battle is brewing for Majority Leader on the assumption that Corman will ascend to Pro Tem. The two names mentioned most as being interested in the role are Sens. David Argall (R-Schuylkill) and John Gordner (R-Columbia). Although these two lead the way in this conversation, it does depend on the outcome of the decision for Senate President Pro Tempore, plus a compromise candidate shouldn’t be ruled out either like Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) or Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne). 

Sources said to keep an eye on Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster), Baker, Dan Laughlin (R-Erie), Elder Vogel (R-Beaver), and Ward making a bid for various positions within leadership. 

4. Senate Democratic Caucus Chatter. 

There hasn’t been a ton of chatter about changes in the Democrats state Senate leadership. Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) looks safe. According to the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, Sens. Maria Collett (D-Montgomery) and John Blake (D-Lackawanna) are interested in seeking Caucus Secretary, after Sen. Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia) lost his primary bid to Nikil Saval.

6 Responses

  1. What a murder’s row competing for captain of the Titanic! The House Democratic Caucus lost two seats after talking about winning a majority and current leaders want to move up? Talk about insanity! As for Leanne Krueger, she was leading HDCC’s losing effort. She should hide her face in shame for the next two to four years. And Margo “I Smash State Cars” Davidson wants to run for Leadership too? Oh boy! Are there still Democrats from other parts of PA, or is Philly it for now? It looks like it will be 10 more years of being in the minority for the House Democrats.

  2. If the Dems had any brains (and more integrity), they’d make Jennifer O’Mara the minority leader. She won (again) in a heavily Republican district. She’s the gold standard that every state rep should aspire to.

    Most of the others mentioned are in easy Dem districts and don’t know how to work as hard. I noticed a few others whose top skill is taking credit for the work of others.

    1. I think that one of the Philly Democrats should get the minority leader job if Frank Dermody loses his race. Each of the Philly Democrats listed above: Jordan Harris, Joanna McClinton and Kevin Boyle are walking examples of why the House remains in Republican hands. The most talented and moderate Philly Democrat who would play the best state wide Mike Driscoll should run for the job.

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