WASHINGTON — Pennsylvania Democrats delivered on their promise to help their party recapture the House, gaining a net of four seats in the delegation at the expense of the GOP.
Buoyed by new court-ordered congressional district lines that created more balanced voter registration, Democrats won four seats in the Philadelphia area and one in suburban Pittsburgh to boost their share of the Keystone State delegation. Republicans grabbed one of the open seats that have been Democratic.
The delegation currently is 13 to 5, Republican seats to Democratic seats.
Four of the Democrats heading to the House for the first time are women, changing the composition of the gender of the all-male delegation. Pennsylvania has only elected seven women to the U.S. House of Representatives, three who won special elections to fill vacancies after their husbands died, according to state records.
No woman in Pennsylvania has ever been elected to the U.S. Senate, or to the Governor’s office.
One key reason favoring Democrats: the state Supreme Court tossed out the existing lines drawn for the congressional seats, ruling they were gerrymandered. Those lines were set by the Republican legislature after Pennsylvania lost a seat following the 2010 census.
Nine seats in Pennsylvania were considered in play by political scientists, but no analyst thought the Democrats would run the table. And they did not.
In one of the key races, Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick survived a tough challenge by Democrat Scott Wallace, a philanthropist who personally put about $8 million of his own cash in the race.
Fitzpatrick is a member of the House No Labels group and stressed his independence as a moderate, reminding how he voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act and touting his labor union support.
Republican incumbents Scott Perry and Mike Kelly also held seats after fierce races, as did Democratic incumbent Matt Cartwright.
The Democratic gains in Pennsylvania were paced by their first victory. That was by Democrat Conor Lamb, who defeated Republican Keith Rothfus in the only duel between two incumbent House members, in a suburban Pittsburgh seat.
His win was followed by Democrat Susan Wild in Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District over Republican Marty Nothstein and Democrat Chrissy Houlahan in Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District over Republican Greg McCauley, according to news media projections. Those are open seats previously held by Republicans.
Other Democratic pickups were by Democrat Mary Gay Scanlon, who bested Republican Pearl Kim in Delaware County. In Montgomery County’s Fourth District, Democrat State Rep. Madeleine Dean was declared the winner by the Associated Press, beating businessman Dan David.
Republicans state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler captured another open seat, one that was previously held by Democrats. He defeated Bibiana Boerio, 58 percent to 42 percent, according to news reports.