Year of Woman arrives in D.C. and Harrisburg
Forget the “Year” of the woman. For Pennsylvania, Nov. 13 was the “Day” of the woman.
First, Democrat Mary Gay Scanlon was sworn in as the newest member of Congress, taking the oath to fill the vacant 7th District seat of Pat Meehan. Remember, Scanlon actually won two elections last week. She won the newly constructed 5th District seat, but she also topped Republican Pearl Kim in the special election for the 7th seat.
When she placed her hand on the Bible and repeated the oath administered by Speaker Paul Ryan, Scanlon made a little history. She became the Keystone State’s first woman member of Congress since 2014.
Last week there were zero women in the Pennsylvania congressional delegation.
Now there are four. But only one of them — Scanlon — has already been sworn in.
Joining her in January will be three other women from southeastern Pennsylvania, fellow Democrats Chrissy Houlahan from Chester County, Susan Wild from the Lehigh County, and Madeleine Dean from Montgomery County.
All four Democrats were victorious as Democrats regained control of the House. All four were in Washington for orientation.
Scanlon was actually running in two races Nov. 6.
In addition to the 5th District race, she and her Republican counterpart Pearl Kim also were vying in a special election to fill the seat vacated by U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, R-7. Meehan resigned the seat in April amid reports that he used taxpayer funds to settle a harassment suit filed by a former staff member.
Scanlon will be part of the 115th Congress for all of seven days. That’s how long this current group will actually be in session before the new Congress arrives in January.
But it remains important because Scanlon now holds seniority over every other incoming member of Congress, including her three female counterparts from Southeastern Pa.
Scanlon was welcomed by members of both parties in the Pennsylvania delegation after taking the oath. There were also two other people in attendance, most appropriate for this special occasion.
There to support Scanlon were Allyson Schwartz and Marjorie Margolies Mezvinsky. They were the last two women to break up Pennsylvania’s allmale delegation in D.C.
Now they need to cast their eyes on the Senate. And the governor’s mansion. Pennsylvania has never elected a woman as a U.S. Senator.
It wasn’t just Washington where women were making a little history. There was another big moment Nov. 14 for women in Harrisburg, proof that female voices are being heard loud and clear in the state capital.
State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-191, who represents a portion of eastern Delaware County, became the first African-American and first woman to hold a caucus leadership post after she was tapped by her peers to head the House Democratic Caucus. She has served in the House since 2015.
It wasn’t all good news for Delco pols in Harrisburg, however. State Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-161, came up short in her bid to be minority whip.
While the arrival of Scanlon and her three counterparts in Washington is long overdue in breaking up Pennsylvania’s old-boy network in Washington, and McClinton’s appointment marks a sea change in Harrisburg, women are still woefully under-represented in our ruling bodies.
The Year of the Woman should be just a start.
It wasn’t just Washington where women were making a little history. There was another big moment for women in Harrisburg, proof that female voices are being heard loud and clear in the state capital.