Democrat Pam Iovino swore the oath office to the Pennsylvania state Senate Monday afternoon, almost one month after winning a special election to represent a suburban Pittsburgh district.
On April 3, Iovino, a Navy veteran and former aide in the George W. Bush White House, defeated Republican candidate D. Raja a tightly contested race for the 37th Senate District. The seat was formerly held by Republican Guy Reschenthaler, who resigned in January to serve in Congress.
With Iovino in the Senate, women now make up 13 out of 50 of the upper chamber’s members (with two vacant seats) — an all-time high of more than 25 percent.
The state House hit the same high-water mark earlier this year, when Rep. Bridget Kosierowski was sworn in after a special election victory in the Scranton suburbs. Including Kosierowski, women hold 53 of the 203 seats in the House.
Iovino’s inauguration also brings the Democratic ranks to 22 members in the Republican-controlled Senate. After picking up six Senate seats in the 2018 midterm elections, the victory in the 37th District has Senate Democrats hopeful that they can flip the chamber in the next election cycle.
Democrats reason that if they pick up three more seats, splitting the 50-member chamber evenly between Democrats and Republicans, they’ll have an effective majority as long a Democratic lieutenant governor remains their presiding officer.
Republicans are favored to win two special elections on May 21, where candidates will vie for seats formerly held by Sen. Richard Alloway, R-Adams, and Sen. Don White, R-Indiana.
In the 33rd Senate district, formerly represented by Alloway, voters will choose between Democratic candidate Sara Hammond, a local government employee, and Republican Doug Mastriano, a military historian and veteran.
In the 41st district, former political aide Joe Pittman is running for the seat formerly held by his old boss, White. Pittman, a Republican, will face Democratic candidate Susan Boser, an Indiana University of Pennsylvania professor and failed congressional candidate.