PA House in disarray as both parties declare victory

Dan Abrams Live

(NewsNation) — With both parties declaring the majority, a fight for control of the Pennsylvania State House is underway. A Democrat and a Republican state representative are declaring themselves the majority leader and claiming they are representing the party in charge.

Democrats technically won more Statehouse seats in Pennsylvania by just one seat, in theory, making it 102 to 101. But one of the state representatives who won died in October, a month before the election. There was reportedly not enough time to take his name off the ballot, so he still won. Then, two other Democratic state representatives who won reelection later resigned because they were elected to a higher office.

Some Republican lawmakers in the state believe those vacancies flipped the balance of power, giving them the majority, 101 to 99. But Democrats say not so fast, voters want Democratic lawmakers filling those seats.

Neither side is backing down. Each party held swearing-in ceremonies.

Democrats swore in Rep. Joanna McClinton as majority leader and acting speaker. House Republicans swore in Representative Bryan Cutler.

Cutler appeared Tuesday on “Dan Abrams Live” to discuss the bizarre situation in the State House.

“I will say that time and time again, in terms of this approach, the reality is, we currently have 101 seats, they have 99. The math is very clear, and our law is very clear. You need to be living, elected, seated and sworn to be a member of the General Assembly. We have case law, dating back decades, that dictates that — that’s not me,” Cutler said.

The three seats that are now vacant appear to be in very Democratic-leaning districts of Pennsylvania. Many agree the Democrats will almost certainly win all three of the open seats when there are new elections. With the stakes so high, the question now becomes, when does that happen? And what happens in the meantime?

The Republicans appear to be trying to delay special elections from February until May. Cutler filed a lawsuit seeking to postpone having the three special elections.

But some believe the GOP may be using that time to push through an amendment that would impose voter ID requirements and an amendment that would ensure the state does not protect abortion access. Cutler insists that’s not a fair characterization of the reasoning behind the suit.

“I think that’s Democrat fear mongering yet again,” Cutler said.

Cutler says one problem that contributed to these circumstances is that Pennsylvania allows sitting lawmakers to run for two offices within the same election cycle.

“Unfortunately, the other two individuals who ran for two offices decided to quit early. They are the ones who denied their constituents that representation in Harrisburg, not me,” Cutler said.

McClinton, who has also been sworn in as majority leader, maintains the motive to delay the special elections for Republicans is to quickly pass partisan legislation.

“Representative Cutler continued his campaign to disenfranchise nearly 200,000 voters in suburban Pittsburgh. The only reason for the GOP leader to delay the special elections in districts 34 and 35 in Allegheny County until the May primary is to deny those voters their right to representation in Harrisburg and to empower the House Republican caucus to play politics and ram through extremist policies,” McClinton said.

According to the state’s election agency, the plan is to move ahead with the special elections in February unless a court orders otherwise. The court is expected to make a ruling on that later in the week.

All of the lawmakers are set to return to Harrisburg on Jan. 3.

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