This May Be One of the Most Important Primary Elections of Our Time …

With legal power of reproductive rights likely going back to the states, the filling of seats in our state legislature is more important now than ever

Lauren DeMascolo, Staff Writer

Republicans currently hold 28 seats in the Pennsylvania Senate while Democrats hold 21. There is one independent senator. Currently, Republicans hold 113 seats in the Pennsylvania House while Democrats hold 90. In February, the PA Legislative Reapportionment Commission created a new legislative district map that the PA state supreme court approved. While a non-partisan analysis tool, PlanScore, describes the new map as “skewed in favor of Republicans,” the PA state supreme court maintains that the map is in line with both the state and federal constitutions.

Gov. Tom Wolf has reached his term limit, and Republicans jumped at the chance to take over the executive branch of the state in addition to the legislative. All have vowed to restrict reproductive rights.

In the wake of the leaked draft opinion that will rule Roe v Wade unconstitutional, expected to be issued in June, it is essentially allowing power to be given back to the states to legislate abortion. It is also expected that in 23 U.S. states abortion will become illegal immediately, as they have anti-abortion laws that pre-date Roe.  13 U.S. states have “trigger laws,” or laws on the books where abortion will become illegal soon after overturning Roe. Pennsylvania has some restrictions, but abortion is legal, and is expected to stay legal after the likely overturning of Roe v Wade. However, should the Republican candidates that are running win and dominate the legislature AND executive branch, that could very well change. Especially if the Republican candidates intend to uphold their agendas.

A handful of Republicans are also in favor of implementing voting laws that essentially make voting harder, which works in their favor. There are more Democratic voters than Republican voters in Pennsylvania, however due to low voter turnout and a history of gerrymandering, Republicans have been holding more seats. The fewer people vote, the easier it is for them to hold power.

There is only one Democratic contender for the gubernatorial nominee spot to run in the general election, Josh Shapiro.  He is the current attorney general. He has listed defending voting access, maintaining abortion rights, and rebuilding infrastructure as major tenets of his campaign.

The current lieutenant governor, John Fetterman, is running for the U.S. Senate seat that will be empty amid U.S. Senator Pat Toomey’s decision to resign. He is competing with Rep. Conor Lamb and Malcolm Kenyatta for the Democratic Party’s nomination and maintains a strong lead. Fetterman proves looks can be deceiving; while he looks like your average blue collar, middle age, white guy that might be vying for the other party’s nomination, he is a progressive who, as his campaign site touts: “he supported legalizing marijuana before it was popular, officiated a same-sex marriage (as mayor) before it was legal, and pushed for single payer healthcare long before it was mainstream.” He supported Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) during his presidential campaign run, supports Black Lives Matter, raising the minimum wage, and signed the “No Fossil Fuel Money” Pledge,” also according to his campaign site

Fetterman served as Mayor of Braddock from 2006–2019, then won the Democratic primary nomination in May 2018 for lieutenant governor, where he secured the position after he and then-candidate for Governor Tom Wolf won in the 2018 November general election.

Running for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor is a state representative from Philadelphia who is also the first openly gay state legislator, Brian Simms. His platform includes to strengthen and protect public education, preserve services for seniors, make affordable health care more available, preserve the environment while investing in alternative energy, create jobs, and clean up Harrisburg, supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and legalizing adult-use recreational marijuana

His Democratic opponent, Ray Sosa of Montgomery County, is the state of PA’s first Latino candidate for Lieutenant Governor, whose focus is on strengthening the state’s emergency management response and improving infrastructure to prevent flooding and other climate-change events.

And lastly, also running for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, is current stat representative Austin Davis, of Allegheny County. If elected, would be the state’s first Black lieutenant governor. As a state legislator, he introduced legislation to reinstate Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, support mental health services, and create penalties for facilities that violate pollution limits. He supports raising then minimum wage, protecting reproductive rights, and has been endorsed by Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

It’s great to see a bit of diversity, and as of today Rep. Austin Davis maintains a lead over the others. Happy Voting!!

Too see a broader list of Democratic and Republican candidates, click here