(The Center Square) – The Democratic Party has the majority by one seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives next session, its first time prevailing in a dozen years.
The race in the 151st House District in Montgomery County pitted incumbent Republican Todd Stephens against Democrat Melissa Cerrato in an extremely close race; Stephens conceded defeat Thursday evening.
Democrats also claimed a win by gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro. The Senate remains majority Republican.
Stephens chalked up his loss to changing electoral districts.
“While in years past I have been able to defy the odds despite tremendously unpopular Republicans at the top of the ticket, the new 36 percent Republican district into which I was drawn, and a gubernatorial candidate who received just 29 percent of the vote, proved to be too much to overcome this year,” Stephens wrote in a Facebook post. “After all the votes have been counted, it appears as though I will come up 57 votes short out of over 33,500 votes cast. I want to offer my sincere congratulations to Melissa Cerrato on being elected State Representative for 151st District. I look forward to working with her in the coming weeks to ensure a smooth transition.”
Cerrato’s win gave Democrats 102 seats in the 203-member House. The other yet-to-be-called race, the 142nd District in Bucks County, was called for Republican Joe Hogan on Thursday night.
In conceding the race, Democrat Mark Moffa criticized the county’s decision not to include provisional ballots or ballots that lacked a proper security envelope or incorrect dates.
“We are disenfranchising voters with these irrelevant rules and this needs to change,” Moffa told the Bucks County Courier Times.
The new speaker of the House is expected to be Joanna McClinton, D-Philadelphia, who’s served in the House since 2015. The last Democratic House Speaker was Rep. Keith McCall of Carbon County in 2009-2010.
McClinton’s rise is also a reflection of population and economic shifts that give the Philadelphia area more power and influence. The area has grown more relative to the rest of the commonwealth, as The Center Square previously reported.
Republicans in the Senate, meanwhile, chose Sen. Kim Ward, R-Greensburg, to serve as interim Senate President Pro Tempore. Sen. Joe Pittman, R-Indiana, will be Senate Majority Leader.
Anthony Hennen is a reporter for The Center Square. Previously, he worked for Philadelphia Weekly and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. He is managing editor of Expatalachians, a journalism project focused on the Appalachian region.
This article was republished with permission from The Center Square.