Pennsylvania House elects Rep. Mark Rozzi as new speaker
When all eyes were on the U.S. House Tuesday, another power struggle played out in Pennsylvania.
Driving the news: After months of uncertainty and political fighting, state lawmakers elected Democratic Rep. Mark Rozzi of Berks County as the next House speaker on Tuesday.
- Democrats and a few Republicans secured Rozzi's surprise 115-85 win against Republican Carl Walker Metzgar.
Why it matters: Democrats have regained control of the state House for the first time since 2010, which could help further the legislative agenda of Democratic Governor-elect Josh Shaprio, who will face a Senate long controlled by the GOP when sworn in later this month.
Yes, but: Rozzi pledged on the House floor Tuesday not to caucus with either party as House speaker.
- He said that as the "commonwealth's first independent speaker" he'll work to help rebuild trust in the chamber.
- "Sometimes Republicans will win; sometimes Democrats will win," Rozzi said.
Context: House Democrats eked out an unexpected majority in November's election — winning 102 seats compared to Republicans' 101.
- But Republicans hold a functional majority of 101-99 due to a trio of Democratic vacancies, which has fueled questions over the last two months over who will lead the House.
- Both Democrats and Republicans claimed power and elected their own interim speaker.
Between the lines: By coalescing around Rozzi, Democrats jettisoned their first choice for speaker, Rep. Joanna McClinton, who represents parts of South and Southwest Philly.
- McClinton would have been the first woman to wield the House gavel.
Of note: In the lead up to Tuesday, Republicans were considering using their short-lived majority to advance a pair of controversial constitutional amendments, which include voter ID requirements, per Spotlight PA.
What's ahead: Rozzi is expected to ultimately decide when to hold special elections for the Democratic vacancies, which must be no later than May.
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