State legislators are on local ballots, likely sparking more special elections

By: - November 2, 2021 10:21 pm

At least three sitting state legislators are on the ballot this election running for local offices, which could cause a trickle down of special elections in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

Meanwhile, a fourth could also be on their way out for a new job because of a colleague’s promotion.

State Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Allegheny, will be Pittsburgh’s next mayor after beating incumbent Mayor Bill Peduto in the May primary. He’ll be Pittsburgh’s first Black mayor.

State Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-Luzerne, is running for the Court of Common Pleas in Luzerne County in northeastern Pennsylvania. The county has so far reported few results. She’s running alongside two other candidates, meaning three are vying for two open spots on the county bench.

Finally, state Sen. John Sabatina, D-Philadelphia, is running for a judgeship in the commonwealth’s largest city. His victory appears all but assured, as he is one of 12 Democrats running for 12 open seats.

All three of the seats are solid seats for their respective parties, but will likely cause inter-party intrigue. Special election candidates are picked by the parties, not voters, in Pennsylvania. 

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

A fourth special election could also be needed, as Gainey is expected to pick his colleague, state Rep. Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny, for a job in his administration, multiple sources have told the Capital-Star. His exit would lead to a second Pittsburgh House special election.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

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.