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Democrats, 4 of them women, win House seats in Pennsylvania

November 7, 2018
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Susan Wild, Democratic candidate in Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District, delivers a speech after defeating her opponent Tuesday Nov. 6, 2018, in Allentown, Pa. Wild faced Republican Marty Nothstein for the seat held by Charlie Dent, who retired. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania elected a state record four women to the U.S. House on Tuesday as Democrats smashed the state’s all-male congressional delegation, picked up three seats in the chamber and ousted a three-term Republican.

Mary Gay Scanlon, Madeleine Dean, Susan Wild and Chrissy Houlahan stand to become the first women from Pennsylvania to serve full terms in Congress since 2014, while U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb beat three-term Republican Rep. Keith Rothfus in the nation’s only race pitting two incumbent representatives against each other.

Pennsylvania’s U.S. House delegation will be a 9-9 tie, giving Democrats in the state their most seats in eight years.

The Democrats’ victories came amid a favorable midterm election climate and the state’s highest midterm turnout in nearly 25 years. The party was aided by a backlash against President Donald Trump, the most open seats in decades and new court-ordered district boundaries that made seats more competitive.

Pennsylvania has never sent more than two women to Congress at any one time, according to information from Chatham University.

“Tonight we’ve changed the face of Congress,” Dean told supporters, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. “Tonight we’re sending women to Washington!”

Meanwhile, three Republican incumbents survived tight contests.

Lamb, a former Marine and federal prosecutor who won a special election in March to an open seat in suburban Pittsburgh, scored another victory in a district that had backed Trump in 2016.

Both Lamb and Rothfus lived in a newly drawn district, a quirk of the state Supreme Court’s redrawing of Pennsylvania’s congressional boundaries after it ruled the districts had been unconstitutionally gerrymandered by Republicans.

The Democratic-controlled court eliminated a Republican advantage that Rothfus once enjoyed in a district that had stretched some 100 miles from the Ohio border past Johnstown. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette once likened its shape to “a malnourished hammerhead shark winding through six counties.”

Seven seats were open this year, partly a function of congressmen deciding against seeking re-election before facing a potentially hostile electorate.

The GOP had won 13 of 18 seats in three straight general elections on a map they drew in 2011 before the state’s high court threw it out in January.

Scanlon, a long-time pro-bono lawyer, won a Delaware County-based seat vacated by four-term Republican Rep. Pat Meehan, who resigned in April while under an ethics investigation for using taxpayer money to settle a former aide’s sexual harassment complaint.

The district won by Scanlon largely replaced a district with such a contorted shape that it was nicknamed “Goofy kicking Donald Duck” and became a national poster child for gerrymandering.

Scanlon also won a special election to fill Meehan’s unexpired term, meaning she will take office within days or weeks.

In the Allentown area, Wild, a lawyer, will succeed Republican Rep. Charlie Dent, who resigned in May.

Houlahan, a former Air Force engineer and athletic apparel company executive, will succeed Republican Rep. Ryan Costello in a Chester County-based seat. Costello decided not to run again in an area that’s trending against Republicans.

Dean won an open congressional seat in Philadelphia’s suburbs, beating Republican Dan David. She’ll effectively replace the retiring longtime Democratic Rep. Bob Brady. Dean has served in the state House of Representatives since 2012.

Republican incumbents won several tight races Tuesday night: freshman Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick in a swing district in Philadelphia’s suburbs, three-term Rep. Scott Perry in a conservative central Pennsylvania district and four-term Rep. Mike Kelly in a northwestern Pennsylvania district won big by Trump in 2016. In northeastern Pennsylvania, three-term Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright won another term.

Also winning Tuesday night were Republicans Guy Reschenthaler, John Joyce and Daniel Meuser to fill three open seats that had favored Republicans. Reschenthaler’s district is in southwestern Pennsylvania’s corner, Joyce’s is a sprawling southern Pennsylvania district around Johnstown, Altoona, Chambersburg and Gettysburg, and Meuser’s covers parts or all of eight counties around Pottsville and Bloomsburg.

Republican Reps. Lloyd Smucker, Tom Marino and Glenn Thompson won re-election, as did two Democratic congressmen from Philadelphia, Brendan Boyle and Dwight Evans. All five were heavily favored.

One incumbent, Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle of Pittsburgh, ran unopposed.

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For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics

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