The first of many elections in Pennsylvania in 2023 is just a week away as Republican Lynda Schlegel Culver and Democrat Patricia Lawton square off in the 27th State Senate District.
The special election will be held on Tuesday, January 31.
The pair seek to replace John Gordner, who resigned to become counsel to Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland).
The GOP currently holds a 27-22 edge over Democrats in the 50-seat chamber.
Culver presently holds the 108th District seat in the state House, representing Northumberland and Snyder counties since 2011.
She has received endorsements from the National Federation of Independent Businesses, and the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, as well as U.S. Representative Dan Meuser (R-9).
Culver had nearly $84,000 in her campaign war chest after winning her 2022 House race unopposed. She says her experience helps her in the race.
“I’ve been working for the House for 21 years, before I ran for office,” she explained to the Milton Standard-Journal. “I understand how legislation works, how you introduce legislation, how you move legislation through the process. I have that experience that I can put to work in the Senate.”
“Making those connections in Harrisburg, learning how to get a bill off the ground, and knowing that it’s not overnight. Change takes time. It’s deliberate, and it was designed to be that way so the public can participate as we go through the process,” Culver said.
Lawton is a speech pathologist from Columbia County. She is working on her dissertation for a Ph.D. in Administration and Leadership Studies through Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation focuses on the professional identity of speech language pathologists within in the school-based setting.
“The perspectives that I can bring can help to provide information for legislations and policy decisions that other career politicians may not be able to provide,” Lawton said to WNEP. “I’m somebody who has been giving a voice to people that have not had that voice. I’ve served in the public in leadership positions in volunteer-type organizations, and it’s always been my belief that I fight for other people.”
Lawton says that her priorities are the economy, mental health resources, supporting women’s rights, and education.
“Amongst young folks, when they talk to me, they want good jobs,” she said. “They want affordable housing and education, and women do not want their reproductive rights taken away. Politicians like to separate a lot of these issues and they’re not separate. They’re related.”
Culver wants to invest in people, invest in infrastructure, and create an environment where people want to invest in the District.
“We need to invest in our infrastructure. No company wants to locate to an area that can’t offer them basic services,” Culver said. “We have to have good roads and bridges, both at the local level and the state level.”
A libertarian candidate – Thomas Anderson – had his petition for petition for writ of mandamus denied by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania on Thursday. He had filed the petition on January 11 to compel the Department of State to accept his nomination packet and put his name on the ballot, despite the fact that Anderson had not filed all of the necessary paperwork by the time of the nomination deadline, which was December 12.
Republicans hold a nearly 2-to-1 voter registration advantage over Democrats in the five-county district. Gordner won reelection convincingly in the 2020 race, defeating his Democratic opponent by 51,000 votes.
- Dave’s Redistricting Partisan Lean: R+29.8
- Voter Registration: R+25.8 (56.0 – 30.2)
The 27th District encompasses parts of Luzerne County including the boroughs of Conyngham, Nescopeck, New Columbus, Nuangola and Shickshinny and the townships of Black Creek, Butler, Conyngham, Dorrance, Fairview, Hollenback, Huntington, Nescopeck, Rice, Salem, Slocum, Sugarloaf and Wright. The district also includes all of Columbia, Montour, Northumberland and Snyder counties.