Republicans sweep 3 special elections for Pennsylvania House

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Republicans are claiming victory and Democrats conceding defeat in three special elections Tuesday to fill empty seats in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

All three seats had been held by Republicans who vacated them after winning elections to county offices last November, and Tuesday’s election maintains the 110-93 Republican majority in the state House.

Eric Davanzo won in a Republican-leaning district in Westmoreland County and Tim Bonner won in a Republican-leaning district based in Mercer County, while K.C. Tomlinson won in a district in politically divided Bucks County.

Democrats had criticized the decision by House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, to hold the special elections apart from the April 28 primary, and then they criticized his decision not to postpone the special elections after Gov. Tom Wolf ordered a shutdown of non-essential government services to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny, called the elections a “disgraceful power grab” by Republicans and Turzai, and said the results don’t reflect fair elections.

In a statement, state GOP chairman Lawrence Tabas said the elections show the strength of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania and have fortified the party’s majority in the state House.