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Speaker Rozzi’s Sweet Sixteen

Mark Rozzi

Rep. Mark Rozzi was elected Speaker of the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives on Tuesday, becoming the first Berks Countian to hold the position since 1935-36.

Rozzi received 115 votes to just 85 for opponent Carl Metzgar (R-Somerset) in an outcome that surprised many long-time Harrisburg watchers.

In recent days, signals had come from Democrats that they were united behind their leader Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia) who was poised to become the first woman to hold the Speaker position.

Republicans caucused throughout the morning on Tuesday, debating whether to support Metzgar, serving in his fifth term in Harrisburg, Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Wyoming), Rep. Valerie Gaydos (R-Allegheny) or Rep. John Lawrence (R-Chester).

With 101 GOP members sworn into the House as opposed to just 99 for Democrats, it appeared that the Republican caucus was in position to choose the leader if the delegation could settle on a choice.

Following a joint session with the state Senate to confirm the statewide votes for governor and lieutenant governor, Rep. Jim Gregory (R-Blair) offered Rozzi’s name in nomination for Speaker which was seconded by Republican Whip Tim O’Neal (R-Washington). McClinton then rose from her seat and endorsed the nomination of the 10-term Berks Democrat.

All 99 seated Democrats cast their vote for Rozzi, while 16 GOP members voted “yes” as well:

  • Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster)
  • Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland)
  • George Dunbar (R-Westmoreland)
  • Jim Gregory (R-Blair)
  • Seth Grove (R-York)
  • Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon)
  • Joe Hogan (R-Bucks)
  • Josh Kail (R-Beaver/Washington)
  • Andrew Kuzma (R-Allegheny/Washington)
  • Kristin Marcell (R-Bucks)
  • Tom Mehaffie (R-Dauphin)
  • Tim O’Neal (R-Washington)
  • Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest)
  • Stephenie Scialabba (R-Butler)
  • Kathleen Tomlinson (R-Bucks)
  • Martina White (R-Philadelphia)

 

During his prepared remarks, Rozzi stated that he would serve as an “independent” speaker, stating “I pledge to caucus with neither the Republicans nor the Democrats. My staff will be made up of people from both parties. I pledge my allegiance and my loyalty to no interest in this building, to no interest in our politics.”

With three Allegheny County special elections upcoming and expected to go Democratic, the balance in the chamber would be 101-101 with the Speaker serving as an independent.

“As a former Speaker myself, I can attest to the fact that the presiding officer of this chamber must remove himself or herself from their own political beliefs and put the institution before individuals,” said Cutler. “I have known Rep. Rozzi for many years and know he will rise to the occasion and meet the moment as a truly independent leader for the Pennsylvania House.”

“The decision to turn to Representative Rozzi reflects the realities of the divided house and some internal divisions within the GOP caucus that would not allow that party to seize the advantage of their temporary majority status,” said Chris Borick, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion.

“Rozzi’s decision to change his affiliation to independent created an opportunity for a compromise that ultimately satisfied Democrats and enough Republicans who would prefer Rozzi in this position to an alternative like McClinton.”

As Rozzi sets the House calendar as Speaker, left unclear are his intentions on allowing Republicans to move forward with plans to introduce several constitutional amendments on issues such as banning taxpayer-funded abortions and voter ID election concerns.

7 Responses

  1. How will committee assignments, majorities and chairs be determined? Have Cutler and the other 15 Republicans who voted for Rozzi agreed to a plan that will prevent Republicans from passing the legislation by constitutional amendment agenda? Does Rozzi get a deal on his sex abuse agenda? When the 3 vacancies are filled by Gergely, Salisbury, and McAndrew, will Rozzi return to the Democratic caucus, or will there be a 101-101 tie that he will break by remaining an independent speaker? Will Rozzi issue new writs of election for the special elections? If the R-controlled Commonwealth Court decides that the special elections called by Rep. McClinton for 34th and 35th districts are invalid, will there be an opportunity to get the special elections scheduled before May 17?

    1. Lots of questions for sure, and you raise a lot of the ones that need to be answered. I think Cutler got rolled. He gave away the temporary Speakership and Rozzi didn’t agree to much in return.

      Rozzi does wants to govern via constitutional amendment though. That is how his sex abuse window will occur. Are you ok with that?

      1. I don’t agree that Cutler got rolled. He has a trump card, which is the majority, at least until the three vacancies are filled. Cutler can control the rules, at least until those vacancies are filled. And I would predict that Cutler will retain a majority at least until after May 17 and possibly as late as November. The writs of election have almost no chance of being confirmed by either the Commonwealth Court or the Supreme Court. It is very clear that Rep McClinton was not the speaker when she issued the writs in December as proven by the fact that she wasn’t elected speaker last week. I am wondering why Rozzi hasn’t mooted the case by issuing new writs of election for special elections in March. It is remarkable that so many members voted for a deal in which apparently a lot of the key terms, including Rozzi’s party registration, were unanswered and ambiguous. Rozzi also doesn’t seem to have any assurance of support of his agenda. The whole process seems amateurish to me, a confederacy of dunces. Personally, I think that statutes of limitations are a good thing, so I don’t support his proposed legislation, whether by constitutional amendment or otherwise.

  2. Looking at this compromise, it’s proof that Democrats and a handful of reasonable Republicans CAN make good decisions for the good of the Commonwealth of PA. Total respect to McClinton for putting her own political aspirations aside for the good of all (DO YOU SEE THIS KEVIN MCCARTHY?).

    1. Don’t jerk off Dems. They didn’t see this coming. They are pissed he flipped Independent.

      Shapiro 1
      Dems 0





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