His­toric night in sub­ur­ban Pa. pol­i­tics

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - FRONT PAGE -

Demo­cratic gains re­flect the chang­ing de­mo­graphic of the sub­urbs and the party’s grow­ing voter reg­is­tra­tion.

It was a his­toric night in sub­ur­ban Penn­syl­va­nia.

And a his­tor­i­cally bad night for the GOP in the coun­ties around Philadel­phia.

How’s this for a lit­tle irony. Wed­nes­day morn­ing marked the date in 1916 when the first woman was elected to the U.S. Congress.

Vot­ers in Mon­tana tapped Jean­nette Rankin for the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

It only took Delaware County a cen­tury to catch up.

One hun­dred and two years later, Mary Gay Scan­lon be­came the first woman in Delaware County his­tory to rep­re­sent the county in Wash­ing­ton. The Demo­crat rolled over Repub­li­can Pearl Kim in the race for the newly con­structed 5th District seat.

It was some­thing of a dou­ble-dip for Scan­lon, who also topped Kim in the spe­cial elec­tion to fill the va­cant old 7th District seat.

That seat has been empty – and its con­stituents with­out a rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Congress – since Repub­li­can Rep. Pat Mee­han re­signed the seat in April amid re­ports he used tax­payer money to set­tle a ha­rass­ment suit filed by a for­mer staffer.

It’s likely Scan­lon will be sworn in later this week. The spe­cial elec­tion win is im­por­tant, in that it will give Scan­lon se­nior­ity over ev­ery other new in­com­ing mem­ber of Congress.

When she does re­turn to D.C. in Jan­uary to rep­re­sent the new 5th District, Scan­lon won’t be alone.

That’s be­cause three other women also made a lit­tle his­tory Tues­day night, sweep­ing con­gres­sional races across the Philadel­phia sub­urbs.

Chrissy Houla­han eas­ily won the newly shaped 6th District seat that is be­ing va­cated by Repub­li­can Rep. Ryan Costello, who de­cided not to seek re-elec­tion.

She be­comes the first woman ever to rep­re­sent Chester County in Wash­ing­ton. The district also in­cludes a large swath of Berks County.

In Mont­gomery County, two more Demo­cratic women won their races. Su­san Wild will rep­re­sent the new 7th District, while Madeleine Dean will rep­re­sent the 4th District.

Be­fore Tues­day, Penn­syl­va­nia had zero women in their con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion.

In its his­tory, the state has sent just seven women to Wash­ing­ton, none of them to fill a seat in the U.S. Se­nate. Of those seven, three filled va­can­cies cre­ated by the deaths of their hus­bands.

The state has never elected a fe­male gover­nor.

Tues­day, vot­ers backed four women can­di­dates for Congress and a num­ber of Democrats for state Leg­is­la­ture.

In con­trast. the GOP suf­fered his­toric losses in places like Delaware County. The Delco del­e­ga­tion in Harrisburg has been trans­formed, now dom­i­nated by Democrats where once this was the solid turf of the GOP.

In Mont­gomery and Chester coun­ties, in­cum­bent Repub­li­can state Sen. John Raf­ferty, R44th, ended his 24-year ten­ure with a loss to Demo­cratic po­lit­i­cal new­comer Katie Muth.

Also in Chester County, in­cum­bent state Rep. Eric Roe, R-158th, was de­feated by Demo­crat Christina Sappey.

Democrats re-elected state Rep. Carolyn Comitta to a se­cond term in the 156th Leg­isla­tive District.

They also gave vic­to­ries to Tim Kear­ney in the 26th Se­na­to­rial District pre­vi­ously held by Thomas McGar­rigle Sr. of Delaware County, and new­com­ers Dan K. Wil­liams in the 74th Leg­isla­tive District, the county’s first black Demo­cratic state rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

Kris­tine Howard de­feated in­cum­bent Duane Milne in the 167th District.

In­cum­bent Repub­li­can state rep­re­sen­ta­tives Tom Quigley, War­ren Kampf and Becky Corbin lost to Democrats Joe Ciresi, Melissa Shus­ter­man and Danielle Friel Ot­ten re­spec­tively.

The Demo­cratic gains re­flect the chang­ing de­mo­graphic of the sub­ur­ban coun­ties, and the Democrats’ in­creas­ing voter reg­is­tra­tion edge.

After decades of en­joy­ing an over­whelm­ing edge in voter reg­is­tra­tion and an iron­clad grip on county and leg­isla­tive posts, the tide is chang­ing.

And it was clear in the his­toric elec­tion of four women to in the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives: Scan­lon, Houla­han, Dean and Wild.

Just call them the Fab Four. Some­where, Mar­jorie Mar­golies-Mezvin­sky and Allyson Schwartz are smil­ing.

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