PA House Majority GOP Takes Steps to Stay in Power, If Possible

 

HARRISBURG – PennLive is reporting… Rep. Bryan Cutler, the once and future leader of the Pennsylvania House Republican caucus, stopped well-short of claiming a majority for his caucus in the next legislative session after internal leadership elections Tuesday.  But he sure didn’t concede the majority to the House Democrats either. Cutler, current House Speaker and elected to continue as the Republican leader come January, said the facts as they stand are that both parties could be at 101 seats on the opening day of the 2023-24 session on Jan. 3, so it’s simply too early to know how the battle for majority control will play out.

“Right now we’re focused on being the Republican caucus,” Cutler said. “I think the terms majority and minority quite frankly are misplaced, because right now we’re numerically tied.”  Here’s why.  Democrats won 102 seats in the just-completed election cycle, good for a nominal majority.  But they are already actually down to 101 members because of the October death of Rep. Tony DeLuca, and they could be down to 99 by Jan. 17, because Rep. Summer Lee has been elected to the U.S. House from Pittsburgh, and Rep. Austin Davis is set to be the state’s new lieutenant governor.

Special elections are required to fill all three seats, and while they all lie in Democratic strongholds, statistically speaking, Cutler said Tuesday it is the height of presumption for either party to assume that they’re going to hold those seats.  “Those are elections that deserve to be held, and we believe that every vote should be counted… I for one believe that we will fight for those open seats,” Cutler said of the Republicans.  Consider, one resident in the 32nd House district that DeLuca would have represented in the upcoming House session is state Rep. Carrie Lewis DelRosso, a Republican from Oakmont, Allegheny County who became this year’s Republican nominee for lieutenant governor.

DelRosso won election to the state House in 2020 after defeating then-House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, only to see her hometown incorporated into DeLuca’s 32nd district in the 2021 reapportionment process.  An old friend of DeLuca’s, that’s what forced DelRosso into thinking about the lieutenant governor’s race.  In an interview with PennLive Tuesday, she noted that she’s worked in public relations and communications for several of the communities that make up the new 32nd, “and it’s a district that’s very close to my heart.”

If the Republicans were able to recruit a candidate like DelRosso to run in the special election for that seat, they would certainly be considered competitive.  DelRosso wasn’t making any announcements Tuesday.  “My thought is I’m considering all options right now,” she said. “So I’m just thinking about it.”  Cutler, incidentally, does appear ready to relinquish the Speaker’s role. Though he did not address it directly in his press conference, his spokesman Mike Straub said that Cutler committed to his caucus members Tuesday that he wants to serve as their floor leader for the session to come.

 

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