The Lead

Democrat Green to replace Johnson-Harrell in West Philly House seat

By: - February 26, 2020 6:30 am

Courtesy of Roni Green Facebook (

After two resignations in the span of two years, West Philadelphia voters again trekked to the polls Tuesday to elect a new Democratic representative.

Unofficial tallies showed Roni Green, an official with Service Employees International Union Local 668, winning the 190th House District seat formerly held by Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell.

Preliminary results show that Green took 86 percent of the vote, beating Republican Wanda Logan. Out of the district’s 47,500 voters, just under 1,800 — about 4 percent — are Republicans, according to the Department of State.

Green, whose union represents tens of thousands of county and state human services workers, told the Philadelphia Tribune she would focus on gun violence, education and wages as a state representative. 

Logan, a former Democrat, campaigned on an anti-corruption message. It’s not a surprising message given the district’s recent history. 

Johnson-Harrell, resigned on Dec. 13, after she was charged with embezzling $500,000 from her own nonprofit and using it on vacations to Mexico, private school tuition and her own campaigns, among other things. She pleaded guilty last month.

Johnson-Harrell was elected in a special election held in March 2019, to replace former Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown. 

Brown resigned under protest in late 2018, soon after winning a new term, when she was officially sentenced for bribery charges. She claims that the sting against her was discriminatory.

Green was picked by Philadelphia ward leaders to run for the seat in a private process. The state leaves the process for picking a special election candidate up to the individual parties.

Picking candidates for special elections can be a covert and complicated process. A state lawmaker wants to change that

Green’s victory only guarantees her a place in Harrisburg until November. She already has six Democratic primary challengers lined up to oppose her in the April 28 primary for a full, two-year term.

One of her primary opponents is former Rep. Mike Horsey, who held the 190th from 1995 until 2004. Another is Amen Brown, who ran against Johnson-Harrell in last year’s special with the support of former Rep. Brown. Republican Logan will once again challenge Green in November.

The district includes the neighborhoods of Belmont, West Powelton, Allegheny West and Mill Creek, among others. It is 82 percent Black, the fifth highest percentage in the House, according to Statistical Atlas.

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Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso is a former senior reporter with Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Before working with the Capital-Star he covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter.