Republicans expand its majority in Pennsylvania Legislature

Aside from a 16-month span in 1993-1994, Republicans have controlled the Pennsylvania Assembly since the early 1980s, and the pre-election consensus was for the majority to hold. 

On election day, Republicans picked up eight seats in the House and three in the Senate.  

G. Terry Madonna, Franklin and Marshall College professor, and Charlie Gerow, CEO of Quantum Communications, agreed that the question wasn’t whether the Democrats would gain control of the Senate, but how many seats the Republicans would gain.

“Some predict one seat, some predict two," Gerow said. "The really rose-colored glasses view is all three."

Madonna agreed, saying he saw very little chance for a potential split between the parties.

But Tony May, a partner at Triad Strategies, viewed the race differently.

“The Senate majority was in question because of the schism between the Tea Party conservatives and everybody else," he said. "Sen. Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) was challenged for leadership, but unless many more conservatives are elected, I tought he would be OK. I think there are three or four who strongly spoke out against Pileggi for majority leader, but that’s it.”

Business owners watched the elections closely, especially in Delaware County, where voters chose Republican Tom McGarrigle over Democrat John Kane as replacement for Republican Sen. Edwin Erickson.  McGarrigle defeated Kane 44,870 votes to 41,544 according to Deleware County Bord of Election. 

“On one hand, you have a candidate supported by organized labor, and on the other, you have a moderate Republican who is pro business growth,” Gerow said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Pennsylvania voters were headed to the polls at a decent turnout, with May estimating that it was around 40 percent. He believes that the issues that are sending voters to the polls are related to taxes, including a possible extraction tax on the state’s natural gas production and other increases that May believes will have to come.

“The Republican-dominated legislature has refused to increase taxes and as a result, funding for state programs has been flat lined," May said. "You can’t survive five years without tax increases.”

May thinks the other issue that is taking voters to the polls is that although unemployment in the state is down, people are working harder and earning less than they did five years ago.

Exit polling will detail voter opinions on tax increases and funding for state programs.  Till then results from polling stations tell the same story of which party Pennsylvanians want controlling the state assembly.