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Democrats seek to strengthen majority in Pennsylvania House as voters cast ballots

Feb 12, 2024, 9:29 PM

This Jan. 2024 combination photo shows nominees for a Bucks County special election to fill a vacan...

This Jan. 2024 combination photo shows nominees for a Bucks County special election to fill a vacant Pennsylvania state House seat, Republican Candace Cabanas, left, and Democrat Jim Prokopiak in Fairless Hills, Pa., (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Democrats have an opportunity to strengthen their hold on the Pennsylvania House on Tuesday as voters cast their ballots in a suburban Philadelphia district that has been leaning more Democratic, after a Republican lawmaker’s resignation last week shifted the balance back to them.

Voters will decide between a Democratic school board member and a Republican political newcomer in the Bucks County election that could give Democrats a slightly larger advantage in the House.

Democrats controlled the House by one vote until Rep. John Galloway resigned in December to become a magisterial district judge. A Republican lawmaker’s resignation last week broke the partisan tie, creating a 101-100 Democratic majority until voters in northeastern Pennsylvania select his replacement in another special election on April 23.

The Bucks County seat has long been reliably Democratic and shares a county with longtime Republican areas where the GOP has been losing power over two decades. Democratic presidential candidates have won the county since the 1990s, and President Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by 10 percentage points in 2020 in Galloway’s district, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 3 to 2.

Even though those signs look good for Democrats, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee is spending $50,000 to protect the party’s majority in the chamber.

Republicans have a chance to deadlock the chamber 101-101. Elections last year in February, May and September broke in Democrats’ favor in largely Democratic areas.

Democrats have the governor’s office. Republicans hold the Senate. House leaders scheduled no voting days for January and February while the partisan divide of the chamber was split.

Democrat Jim Prokopiak, 49, and Republican Candace Cabanas, 45, are vying for the seat.

Cabanas has said she is running to represent the working-class district, not necessarily to tilt power closer to Republican control.

“It’s an interesting thing to be thrown into this because I’m not a politician, and I’m really just running to support working-class families in lower Bucks County,” Cabanas said.

Prokopiak, who was first elected in 2021 to the school board in a district north of Philadelphia, has said he wants Democrats to be able to continue the work that has looked out for the middle class.

“Over the last year I think, since the Democrats have been in the majority, they’ve pushed legislation that has helped the middle class,” Prokopiak said. “I want to do that.”

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

___

Brooke Schultz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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Democrats seek to strengthen majority in Pennsylvania House as voters cast ballots