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Philadelphia City Hall on Feb. 12. Credit: Abhiram Juvvadi

Three Democrats won seats in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in three special elections held on Feb. 7, leading to a one-seat Democratic majority in the legislative chamber. 

Joe McAndrew, Abigail Salisbury, and Matt Gergely won seats in Pennsylvania’s 32nd, 34th, and 35th districts, respectively. All three districts are located in Allegheny County, which is home to Pittsburgh, the commonwealth’s second-largest city.

The Democrats’ 102 to 101 majority marks the party’s first House majority in 12 years. 

Democrats may now set the state House agenda and will have extra influence in incoming state budget talks — a budget that is projected to exceed $40 billion in state revenue. The Democrats' victories in these special elections come ahead of the 2024 elections, where Pennsylvania will serve as a presidential and senatorial battleground state. 

“It cannot be overstated: This is going to be the first time in over a decade that we are going to have a House majority. We’ll be able to dodge so many bullets just by going from defense to offense,” United States Rep. Summer Lee, who also represents Pittsburgh, said to 90.5 WESA

College sophomore and Penn Democrats Communications Director Nicole Giegerich wrote to The Daily Pennsylvanian that the Democratic majority “better represents the will of the people.” 

Over 33,000 votes were counted in the elections, with Democrats winning over 79% of the vote, according to results posted on the Pennsylvania Department of State website.

Allegheny County GOP chairman Sam DeMarco told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he “couldn’t be prouder” of the Republican nominees. The districts up for election were heavily Democratic — an “uphill battle” — and the race was “a mountain to climb for any [of the nominees].”

The commencement of the Pennsylvania legislature’s session in January marked a period of uncertainty within the House. Though Democrats won 102 of the chamber’s 203 seats in November, marking a slight majority, three seats were vacated soon thereafter.

The 32nd district seat became vacant following the death of state Rep. Tony DeLuca, who died in October 2022, according to 90.5 WESA. The 34th district was vacant as a result of Lee’s victory in U.S. House of Representatives elections in November. Similarly, the 35th district was open due to Austin Davis’ election as Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania under Gov. Josh Shapiro.

Giegerich added that with this Democratic majority, the Penn Dems hope to see an emphasis placed on educational reform moving forward — particularly on “fixing the broken system of school funding.” She wrote that the organization hopes to see the Pennsylvania House Democrats center their efforts on advancing educational equity, which would grant opportunities for “everyone [to] have an equal chance to thrive in school.”