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RCP: Off-Year Races Will Shape Pennsylvania’s Future


In a little more than two weeks, Pennsylvania voters will go to the polls for off-year primary elections. With races for Philadelphia Mayor, Allegheny County Executive, and a state house special election that will decide control of the House, these races will have an outsized impact on politics in Pennsylvania and even nationally for the next several years.



First, a special election to replace disgraced Rep. Mike Zabel (resigning due to sexual harassment allegations) in Delaware County will determine control of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Democrats currently hold a single-seat margin. Republicans already are in control of the State Senate; with control of the House, they can pass constitutional amendments that bypass Gov. Josh Shapiro’s veto pen, just as they did when Gov. Tom Wolf was in office. Republicans could use the constitutional amendment process to implement voter ID, restrict access to abortion, and dismantle Pennsylvania’s regulatory structure.
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The second important election is the Allegheny County Executive race to replace term-limited County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. The county executive oversees elections in Allegheny County, including the implementation of mail voting and drop boxes, making the seat critically important heading into 2024. Fitzgerald is leaving office with a 72% approval rating, and a former key staffer is sitting in the lieutenant governor’s office. Progressives had some disagreements with Fitzgerald – particularly around oil and gas development, appointments, and his handling of the Allegheny County Jail – but he has navigated a rapidly changing electorate on both the Democratic and Republican sides. And he has left his imprint on almost every local or state policy implemented in Western Pennsylvania.
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The third important race is the contest for the Philadelphia mayor’s office. The field is large.
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Off-year elections, especially local ones, don’t get the attention of presidential or even midterm elections – but from control of the Pennsylvania State House to the administration of the election in Allegheny County, these three races will affect policies on the local, state, and federal level for years to come.



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