'The stakes are high' with abortion on the ballot in key Pennsylvania House elections
On Tuesday, May 16, political strategists will be keeping a close eye on the Keystone State, where two special elections will determine whether Democrats keep or lose their narrow one-seat majority in Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro has been emphasizing that abortion rights are on the line in these races.
One of the races is in Delaware County in the Philadelphia suburbs and finds Democrat Heather Boyd competing with Republican Katie Ford.
The Associated Press reports, "The stakes are high: A Democratic victory in Delaware County would give first-term Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro at least one chamber to aid his agenda going into the final month of budget negotiations. The results could also affect a proposed constitutional amendment on abortion rights that legislative Republicans are one House vote away from putting before voters as a referendum."
The Delaware County race has attracted national attention. President Joe Biden, Politico reports, gave Boyd an "election-eve endorsement," and residents of Delaware County have been inundated with pro-Boyd ads in which Shapiro urges voters to "keep abortion legal" in Pennsylvania by voting for her.
Politico notes that although Shapiro will have the power to veto any anti-abortion bills if Republicans retake the Pennsylvania House, a GOP-controlled "state legislature could go around the governor to place an anti-abortion constitutional amendment on a future ballot."
May 16 will also determine who Philadelphia's next mayor could be. Democratic and GOP mayoral primaries are being held in Philly, but because the city is overwhelmingly Democratic — it hasn't had a Republican mayor since the early 1950s — the winner of the Democratic primary is likely to win the general election in November. The Washington Post has described Philly's Democratic mayoral primary as the "de facto general election," noting Democrats "7-1" registration advantage over Republicans.
The Philly race has national implications, as Pennsylvania is a must-win state for Biden in 2024 and Philly's next mayor could be called upon to help with get-out-the-vote efforts in Pennsylvania's most densely populated city.
Philly's Democratic mayoral candidates are a combination of progressives, liberals and centrists. Progressive Helen Gym, a former city councilwoman, has been endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) —both of whom visited Philly for one of her campaign events on May 14.
Gym's more moderate primary rival, Rebecca Rhynhart, has been endorsed by at least two ex-Philly mayors: centrists Ed Rendell and Mike Nutter (who worked on Michael Bloomberg's 2020 presidential campaign). Rendell also served as governor of Pennsylvania and chaired the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
In an article published on May 15, the Washington Post's Amber Phillips stresses that if the Democratic nominee is Rhynhart, Gym or former Philadelphia City Councilwoman Cherelle Parker, Philly could have its first female mayor. The male Democratic candidates, meanwhile, include businessman Jeff Brown and Allan Domb, a former Philly city councilman known for selling high-end real estate.
The Philadelphia Inquirer has been a frequent source of information for the Pennsylvania House and Philly mayoral races. But the publication was dealt a harsh blow during the May 13/14 weekend when it suffered a major cyberattack that slowed down its operations and couldn't have come at a worse time. Because of the attack, the Inquirer had to cancel its Sunday print edition for May 14.
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