No doubt, this election cycle is shaping up to be a hot one. We’ve got an exciting governor’s race that is noted nationally as one to watch. Thanks to redistricting and retirements, we can expect at least 10 percent turnover in the General Assembly. Races across the state are heating up as Democrats try to close in on Republicans, who hold a majority in both the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the Senate. Finally, post-election, a dozen chairmanships and leadership positions will be up for grabs, including the prestigious and powerful Speakership.
Adding to the flurry of political activity are two House races where former members are seeking to reclaim their seats. Both races are in the southeastern part of the state, which is understood to be political ground zero in Pennsylvania. The southeast has a traditionally Democratic constituency in Philadelphia, but moderate Republicans rule in the surrounding areas. Often, districts in the southeast are Election Day wildcards, based on factors like voter turnout or newly drawn legislative lines.
In the 146th district, Thomas Quigley (R) is challenging incumbent Mark Painter (D). The 146th district is in Montgomery County and includes Pottstown and the surrounding areas. That seat has been held by a Republican from 1969 through 2012; Quigley held the seat from 2005 through 2012. However, in 2012 – a presidential election year –Quigley was unseated in the general election by democrat Mark Painter, making Quigley the only Republican incumbent to lose his seat that year. Painter is currently closing out his freshman term in the House of Representatives, but he won’t necessarily have an easy time making it to his second. Quigley has returned to challenge him in the 2014 general election, and the outcome of that race is anyone’s guess right now.
The 130th district is located in Berks County and includes the municipalities that are closest to neighboring Montgomery County. Incumbent David Maloney (R) is being challenged by former member David Kessler (D). Democrat Russ Diesinger had originally run to challenge Maloney but has withdrawn, which left the Berks County Democratic Party to choose Kessler as his replacement for the general election. The 130th has had alternating party representation since 1969; from 2007 to 2010, the seat was held by Kessler and has been held by Maloney from 2011 to the present. Given the history of incumbents in the Keystone State and the 130th being comprised of mostly registered Republicans, Maloney was a shoe-in. Now that a familiar face has gotten into the mix, this has become a whole new race.
These are just two of the 203 House races we’re watching this season. It’s too soon to even guess who’s in and who’s out in any of them, but you can count on one thing: as soon as we know, you’ll know.