HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) – On Tuesday, some Pennsylvania voters will be casting their ballots for more than just municipal and judicial primary elections. There are two special elections for Pennsylvania House vacancies. One of them is attracting a lot of attention, and a lot of money.
In four days, all eyes will be on voters in Delaware County.
“A lot is riding on this. I mean, I’m sure Democrats are nervous,” said Gannon University Professor Dr. Jeffrey Bloodworth.
The expensive special election in the Philadelphia suburbs between Democrat Heather Boyd and Republican Katie Ford will be held to replace the seat of former Democratic state Representative Mike Zabel. First elected to serve the 163rd House District in 2018, Zabel resigned earlier this year amid allegations of sexual misconduct, putting a 101-102 Democratic House majority on the line.
“Democrats have raised over $1,000,000, Republicans a quarter million. That’s a heck of a lot of money for a state House race, even if it’s in Philadelphia,” said Bloodworth. “It just tells us, the statehouse is at stake,” he added.
Dr. Bloodworth says if Democrats don’t retain the seat, it would have major consequences.
“All the best laid plans are then torn asunder. All the work on the budget and the committees, you rip them up and you start over again,” said Bloodworth.
A Katie Ford victory could also jeopardize the agenda and budget priorities of Democratic Governor Josh Shapiro, who recently voiced support for Boyd.
“Look, governors, presidents don’t weigh in to local races unless the stakes are really that big and if they think they can win,” said Bloodworth. “But any chance of passing his agenda, he has to have control of the statehouse,” he added.
Bloodworth predicts Democrats will win, but says anything can happen.
“It’s the Philly suburbs. It’s Democratic. These people vote. You can’t blow this,” said Bloodworth. “If you blow this, I don’t know, you’re the Democratic Party and the Democratic Party has a history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory,” Bloodworth added.
An additional special election will also be held on Tuesday to fill a vacancy in the 108th House District. The former state representative who held the seat, which includes Montour and Northumberland counties, was elected to the state Senate earlier this year. That seat has been held by Republicans for decades, and is expected to stay red.