Democrats retain majority in Pennsylvania House of Representatives, positioning party to prevent restrictions on abortion rights

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Democrats retained their slim majority in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Tuesday by winning a special election, giving them continued control over how the chamber will handle abortion, gun rights and voting rights legislation.

Heather Boyd won a seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives representing the Philadelphia suburbs, beating Republican Katie Ford by a job left vacant by the resignation of Democratic Rep. Mike Zabel. Zabel resigned from Parliament in March shortly after a lobbyist accused him of sexually harassing her.

Boyd’s win gives the Democrats 102 seats, the minimum needed to control the agenda in the 203-seat House of Representatives. The state Senate has a Republican majority.

The Democrat victory in the Delaware County district means that in his first term, Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro will have at least one chamber to support his agenda into the final month of budget negotiations. The result could also affect a proposed constitutional amendment that restricts abortion rights. Legislative Republicans are one vote in the House of Representatives away from presenting it to voters in a referendum.

Boyd is a former congressional and state legislator. Your district was once Republican but gave Democratic candidates a solid lead in the recent election.

Republicans went into the 2022 election with a 113-90 lead in the House of Representatives, but Democrats netted a 12-seat net, barely enough to win majority status after 12 years and elect one of their ranks to be speaker.

Republican Michael Stender won a special election for a vacant seat in central Pennsylvania. Stender, a Shikellamy school board member, firefighter and former paramedic, was joined by former Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver, the Republican who represented the district before winning a special election to the state Senate earlier this year. Stender defeated Democrat Trevor Finn, a Montour County commissioner. The district also includes part of Northumberland County.

Associated Press writers Nicholas Riccardi in Denver and Marc Levy in Harrisburg contributed to this report.

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