Meet the 120th GOP member of the PA State House, Philadelphia’s Martina White
Paul Gordon Collier- Pennsylvania politics is receiving some national attention this week from the conservative news publication, National Review. John Fund, a National Review and also a Wall Street Journal correspondent, focused his attention on an obscure state legislative race in Philadelphia’s 170th State House District this past Tuesday night.
The special election was to fill a void left behind by the previous state representative in that Philadelphia district, Brendan Boyle (D). The GOP put 26 year old Martina White against the democratic challenger, Sarah Del Ricci. Del Ricci was a hand-picked candidate by the current Lieutenant Governor, Mike Stack III.
John Fund, in the National Review article, stated, “The governor has said he plans to provide property-tax relief with some of the money, but the tax increases are likely to outweigh the property-tax benefits by a ratio of three to one. Apparently, voters in Northeast Philadelphia didn’t buy that logic. A tax revolt is alive and well in the Keystone state, and the Republican legislature would be foolish to go along with Wolf’s predatory increases.”
Other factors in the race, however, may have been the candidate selected by Lieutenant Governor Stack. The candidate, Del Ricci, was not favored by the Unions, who actually broke in favor of the GOP candidate, Martina White. Boyle, the man whose former seat was being contested, stated, “This could have remained a Democratic seat.”
Boyle pinned the loss less on the tax issue and more on “personal relationships” getting in the way of picking a candidate the base of the democratic party in that district (as represented by the Union leaders) would favor. Boyle also criticized Del Ricci for not working as hard as White to win the election.
Whether the race was about taxes or unions feeling left out, the election produced only the second Republican to represent the city of Philadelphia in state-wide office. It was also the first time a republican picked up an open seat in an election in over 25 years. The fact that the democrat who lost was one hand-selected by the new Lieutenant Governor is bad news both for the him and the current Governor, Tom Wolf, who is already dealing with a democratic party at odds over the recent Attorney General controversy.
The win extends the GOP’s super majority in the State Assembly to 120-83, creating yet another impediment for the Governor to get pieces of his agenda passed through the PA State legislature.
Reveling in her victory, White said in her Election night speech, “”It’s an honor to have the level of support we’ve had. I know it’s a major upset for my opponent and probably the lieutenant governor as well.”
The fact that the GOP candidate won the election by 14 points makes this win all the more stunning in a district in which registered democrats outnumber registered republicans by a 2 to 1 margin.
Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason said this about White’s 14-point victory:
“The Republican Party of Philadelphia has turned the corner with Representative-elect Martina White’s victory today. The hard work of Republican Party of Philadelphia is paying off, and I am confident that tonight’s win will be the first of many victories to come for the Philly GOP…..In the first election after the Democrats announced their plans to hold their 2016 National Convention in Philadelphia, Republicans have delivered a resounding welcome with a huge win.”
In the 2014 Election, Pennsylvania was the only state to flip a Governor from a republican to a democrat, despite producing historic GOP majorities in the State House and State Senate. This latest upset victory for the GOP, with a 14 point majority included, may indicate democrats have a lot to do to win back the voters of Pennsylvania, despite their victory in the Governor’s race in 2014.
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