The Capital-Star’s guide to resignations, retirements and special elections in Pa. Legislature

Seven special elections have been called this year and at least one is expected in early 2024

By: - August 24, 2023 4:40 pm

(l-r): Former state Rep. Sara Innamorato, Rep. Rob Mercuri, R-Allegheny, Rep. John Galloway, D-Bucks.

[This article was updated at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 25, 2023.]

One-third of the way through the 2023-24 legislative session, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has had almost as many special elections as it had in the entirety of the previous session.

And the legislative round of musical chairs will continue next month, as Allegheny County voters seek a replacement for state Rep. Sara Innamorato.

Although House Democrats won a narrow majority last November, they lost it before lawmakers had even been sworn into office. Two incumbent Democrats, Austin Davis and Summer Lee, resigned to take higher offices and a third Democrat, Anthony DeLuca, died about a month before the election— but voters reelected him anyway.

Since then, three more House lawmakers have resigned and at least one more is expected to give up his seat early next year.

With Innamorato’s seat vacant, the votes are evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans at 101-101. The seat is set to be filled in this year’s seventh special election just a week before the House returns to session on Sept. 26.

Over in the upper chamber, there has been less turnover, but The Capital-Star will keep a running list of House and Senate retirements, resignations and special elections over the coming months. This article will be updated as necessary and please let us know if anything, or anyone, is missing. 

Resignations in the House

Rep. Sara Innamorato, D-Allegheny, to campaign for Allegheny County executive

Rep. Mike Zabel, D-Delaware, after being accused of harassment by multiple women

Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver, R-Northumberland, elected to state Senate

Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny, elected lieutenant governor

Rep. Summer Lee, D-Allegheny, elected to U.S. House

Rep. Rep. Anthony DeLuca, D-Allegheny, died in October 2022

Resignation in the Senate

Sen. John Gordner, R-Columbia, appointed counsel to Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland

Special elections

Sept. 19, 2023 – Democrat Lindsay Powell and Republican Erin Connolly Autenreith are running for Innamorato’s former 21st Legislative District seat. 

May 16, 2023 – Democrat Heather Boyd won Zabel’s former 163rd District seat.

May 16, 2023 – Republican Michael Stender won Culver’s former 108th District seat.

Feb. 7, 2023 – Democrat Joe McAndrew won DeLuca’s 32nd District seat.

Feb. 7, 2023 – Democrat Abigail Salisbury, won Lee’s former 34th District seat.

Feb. 7, 2023 – Democrat Matthew Gergely won Davis’ former 35th District seat.

Jan. 31, 2023 – Culver won Gordner’s former 27th Senatorial District seat.

Expected resignations and retirements

Rep. Paul Schemel, R-Franklin, announced Aug. 24 that he will not seek reelection to a sixth term in 2024.

Rep. Rob Mercuri, R-Allegheny, announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Chris Deluzio, D-17th District, in 2024. Mercuri said he will not simultaneously seek reelection to the state House and his seat will be up for grabs next year. 

Rep. Ryan MacKenzie, R-Lehigh, is running for the GOP nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-7th District, in 2024 and said he will not stand for reelection to the state House.

Rep. John Galloway, D-Bucks, won both Democratic and Republican primaries for magisterial district judge in Falls Township. He will remain a state representative until he is sworn in as a judge. His seat will likely be filled in a special election early next year.

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Peter Hall
Peter Hall

Peter Hall has been a journalist in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for more than 20 years, most recently covering criminal justice and legal affairs for The Morning Call in Allentown. His career at local newspapers and legal business publications has taken him from school board meetings to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and many points of interest between. He earned a degree in journalism from Susquehanna University.