The court green lights a special election for the House of Representatives onebruary 7
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania court onriday ruled that a special election be held to fill three vacancies in Democratic-leaning state assembly districts together next month, with partisan control of the chamber.
The three-judge Commonwealth Court panel sided with the Democratic House leader, Representative Joanna McClint of Philadelphia, who moved to fill Allegheny County’s three seats together oneb. 7.
The decision was a loss for Rep. Brian Cutler, the Lancaster Republican who heads his House caucus, and whose lawsuit sought to delay two special elections until the May primaries.
The order, signed by Democratic Judge Michael Wojek, who did not come up with an opinion detailing his reasons, said Cutler did not prove he had a clear right to what he was seeking or that the injunction he sought was in the public interest.
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Wojcik writes that he agrees with McClinton’s argument that Cutler was asking the court to hear cases that are not fit for court.
The judge said Cutler sought rulings on “non-justiciable political matters as to which party in the House has the majority and, at the same time, who in the House has the power to act as majority leader” and to issue election orders in the transition period between the end of the last legislative session that lasted two years on November 30 and the start of the current cycle earlier this month.
McClinton’s press secretary issued a statement calling the decision “good news for the approximately 200,000 residents of Allegheny County who currently do not have representation in the state assembly.”
“Today the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania decided to disregard basic math and prior law in ordering all three of these elections to be held together onebruary 7,” said Pennsylvania House Republican Leader Brian Cutler. “Instead of resolving a dispute where the answer would have been intuitive based on numbers, the court took the path of least resistance and thus weakened the very foundations of our republic and our belief in the rule of law.
The Democrats won 102 seats in the November election, but one of their re-elected incumbents died of cancer in October and two others resigned in December because they were also elected to higher positions.
At an argument hearing this week, Allegheny County officials told the judges that preparations are well under way for all three special elections to take place onebruary 7, with ballots ready to print and most polling stations and election staff in place.
Cutler had previously agreed to fill the late Rep. Tony DeLuca’s seat oneb. 7, but wanted to wait several months for a special election for counties recently represented by former Rep. Austin Davis, who will be sworn in as deputy governor next week, and nowirst US Attorney Summer Lee.
The three open positions left Republicans with a temporary majority of 101-99, but the GOP could lose a member later this month. Republican State Rep. Linda Schlegel Culver of Northumberland County hopes to win the special election to the Senate and fill the seat recently filled by John Gordner, a Republican who resigned mid-term to become a Senate attorney.
A narrow partisan breakdown in the House last week led to Rep. Mark Rosie, a Berks Democrat, being elected as an independent speaker, on the strength of all Democratic votes and 16 Republicans.
Rousey announced Thursday the formation of a group of six state representatives, three from each side, to advise him on potential rules for the 2023-24 tournament. Announcing that starting Tuesday, Rousey’s office said the Speaker’s Action Group will seek to move Pennsylvania forward “to a bipartisan agreement to end the deadlock in the House.”