While Donald Trump is no longer in power, the effects of his baseless attacks on our democracy still permeate throughout the entire Republican party, especially in Pennsylvania’s state legislature.
Election denialism has become a trademark of the Harrisburg Republican playbook. And now in response to the 2022 election results, Republican Leader Rep. Bryan Cutler and other Republicans, who requested that Pennsylvania’s 2020 electoral votes not be certified, are once again moving to override the will of voters — this time in Allegheny County — in order to seize control of the state House.
On Election Day, Democrats won 102 seats to Republicans’ 101 in the state House, giving Democrats a majority for the first time in 12 years. But current control of the House majority is complicated because three seats that Democrats won in Allegheny County will not be filled until special elections are held.
Those three seats are currently vacant because Austin Davis was elected lieutenant governor, Summer Lee to Congress and Tony DeLuca sadly passed away.
However, those districts are by not now under Republican control. In fact, House Democrats are still staffing those districts and serving those constituents. Yet, Republicans claim that as a result of these vacancies, they are entitled to retain the majority until after the next primary election — May 16, 2023.
Cutler is seeking to disenfranchise nearly 200,000 voters in those three Allegheny County districts by filing lawsuits and taking other actions to delay the already-scheduled special elections.
Voters in Allegheny County and throughout Pennsylvania delivered a clear message at the polls: they want nothing to do with GOP extremist policies and their devious approach to government. Through these attempts to delay the special elections, Cutler is trying to deny Allegheny County voters their right to representation in Harrisburg and force all Pennsylvanians to endure several more months of an illegitimate Republican majority.
Voters in the three districts now up for special election chose a Democrat to represent them and their interests, thereby delivering a Democratic majority.
Forcing such a majority on Pennsylvania usurps the will of our voters. The people of McKeesport, Braddock, Penn Hills and other Allegheny County communities have the same right to representation as voters represented by Republicans.
The state House must be restored to its full complement as soon as possible to ensure that all Allegheny County residents have a voice in Harrisburg and so that lawmakers can get to work for the people of Pennsylvania. That means holding special elections on the earliest possible date — Feb. 7. Instead, Cutler is attempting to schedule two of the three special elections on May 16, the latest possible date they could be held.
And let’s be clear, by moving to maximize the amount of time these Allegheny County residents go without representation in Harrisburg.
So what happens next, and when will the special elections actually be held? That’s a very difficult question to answer right now, but there will surely to be a lot of fighting about it over the next month in Harrisburg. At the time of this writing, Cutler’s lawsuits are currently pending before the Commonwealth Court and no matter who wins at that level, they are certain to be appealed to the state Supreme Court.
We will be devoting time and resources that should be spent improving the lives of Pennsylvanians to bicker over a hopeless power grab by the GOP. Because, fundamentally, whether these special elections happen earlier or later, a Democratic majority will control the state House this session. All that these efforts do is delay our ability to have a functional government.
I want to stress that it does not have to be this way if Republicans would allow these special elections to proceed, as scheduled, on Feb. 7, rather than denying representation to almost 200,000 of our Allegheny County friends and neighbors for an additional three months.
Every Pennsylvanian has a right to representation — and the will of the people must be respected.
My staff and I continue to be here to help you with any state-related matter. Reach out to my office at (412) 321-5523 or email RepKinkead@pahouse.net if you need help. n