Republican Dave Arnold apparently on track to win in Pa. Senate special election

Republican Dave Arnold and Democrat Michael Schroeder square off in the state's 48th district (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller).

The Pennsylvania state Senate will soon be back to full complement, as Republican prosecutor Dave Arnold appeared on track to best his Democratic opponent in a special election in central Pennsylvania’s 48th Senate District on Tuesday night.

The Pennsylvania Republican Party claimed victory in the race by 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, when Arnold had captured nearly 50 percent of the vote in Dauphin and Lebanon Counties, according to unofficial tallies, with 90 percent of precincts reporting after polls closed at 8 p.m.

The 48th District, which covers Lebanon and parts of York and Dauphin Counties, has been vacant since former Sen. Mike Folmer, a Republican, resigned in September after being charged with possession of child pornography.

“We’re just 14 days into the 2020 election year and the winning has already begun for Republicans in Pennsylvania,” state party chairman Lawrence Tabas said in a press release Tuesday night.

However, the decisive Republican victory is consistent with past outcomes in the 48th District, where Republicans hold a sizable voter registration over Democrats. The seat has been in GOP hands since the 1960s.

Lebanon County District Attorney and Senator-Elect Dave Arnold and his wife, Alicia, after Arnold was chosen as the Republican nominee in a special election for the 48th senate district.

Arnold will likely be sworn in when the Senate returns to Harrisburg on Jan. 27, Jenn Kocher, a spokeswoman for the Senate Republican Caucus, confirmed to the Capital-Star on Tuesday.

Tabas noted in his statement that Arnold’s victory will give Senate Republicans a 29-21 majority over Democrats — a tally that includes the chamber’s sole third-party member, Sen. John Yudichak, I-Luzerne, in the Republican caucus.

Arnold will take his seat just three months after undergoing surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor, which doctors discovered in October.

He took some time off of work last November to recover from the surgery, which took place two days after the tumor was found, according to statements issued by his campaign.

He expects the condition will require additional treatment. But Arnold told PennLive in January that doctors gave him a clean bill of health to return to Lebanon County DA’s office or begin his duties in the state Senate.

A lifelong resident of Lebanon County, Arnold has served as the county’s elected district attorney for 14 years. He’s also been the president of the Pennsylvania Districts Attorney Association, which wields significant influence over criminal justice legislation in the Capitol.

Arnold told PennLive this month that he hopes to tackle issues including school property tax reform when he arrives in Harrisburg.