Skip to comments.GOP keeps control of Pa. legislature
Posted on 11/06/2002 5:36:25 AM PST by NittanyLion
Republicans strengthened their majority in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives by picking up at least three seats while holding fast to their Senate majority. That means Ed Rendell will be the first governor in more than a century to take office with both chambers controlled by the opposite party.
"It's a historic evening for our caucus," said House Majority Leader John M. Perzel (R., Phila.), who won handily against his Democratic challenger, Paul Prior.
The GOP should have 108 seats when the new House takes office in January, Republican officials said last night. The party went into Election Day with a 105-98 lead in the House and a 29-21 majority in the Senate. All 203 seats in the House were up for election, and half of the 50 Senate seats were up for grabs.
"The Democrats won't need the tape measure for that room [majority caucus room]," Perzel told reporters by videoconference from his headquarters last night.
Democrats, trying to win the majority for the first time in nine years, targeted a dozen House seats, all in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Rep. Mike Veon (D., Beaver), the minority whip and a chief strategist in the battle to take control, had hoped that Rendell's popularity among Republicans in the region would help carry some Democratic House candidates into office.
But the much-ballyhooed coattails didn't have any effect at all.
"Our message got out there, and we believe we were rewarded," Perzel said. "We picked up seats despite all the talk about us losing seats."
Of the 12 targeted races, Democrats picked up one seat in Montgomery County when Democrat Daylin Leach narrowly defeated Rep. Wallis Brooks, a Republican freshman incumbent, in the 149th District.
But Democrats had one of their own in trouble in Montgomery County. Rep. John A. Lawless, a Democrat who served 12 years in the House, was in a tight race in the 150th District against Republican Jacqueline R. Crahalla. Democrats expected it to be decided with a recount.
"It's going to take us a long time to figure out how we came so close and didn't get over the top," said Mike Manzo, a spokesman for the Democratic caucus. "There was ample opportunity for us to win. But we weren't able to put us over... . We knew going in that it was an uphill battle."
Democrats said they lost a number of races by a margin of a few hundred votes. For example, Republican Melissa Murphy Weber in the 148th District in Montgomery County edged out Democrat Karen Kaskey by about 500 votes, officials said. Rep. Tom Gannon, a Republican, defeated Democrat Sara Lynn Petrosky in the 161st District in Delaware County by a few hundred votes, too.
Democrats said money and reapportionment hurt them in the end.
"They had $6 million, we had $3 million," Manzo said. "We lost three seats in reapportionment. They really didn't do much to pick up those seats except to draw them out with a pen."
It was deja vu for the Democrats, who had considered this year one of their best opportunities to tip the balance of power in their favor. The state party wasn't able to take control in 2000, when Al Gore carried the traditionally GOP Philadelphia suburbs and came away with 80 percent of the city vote.
Republican leaders said they won yesterday, as they did two years ago, largely because House races turn on local issues.
Earlier in the day, House Democrats were buoyed by the strong early turnout and the get-out-the-vote campaign in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Manzo said 1 in 4 Republicans in Southeastern Pennsylvania voted for Rendell yesterday, becoming "Rendellicans" to political pundits. "We didn't need all of them," he said. "We just needed 1 in 7 to pull for Democrats."
Also, on local matters he has little credibility, due to the Philly schools being taken over by the state.
Now all we need are for more conservative Republicans to get elected.
Mine too. Unfortunately, Fisher did little to differentiate himself from Rendell (abortion being a notable exception). Granted he proposed to spend my money on different initiatives, but he would've given my money to other people nonetheless.
What it came down to was a race decided on personality. And there's no disputing Rendell's charisma.
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