Historic night in suburban Pa. politics
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.