FOCUS ON: PENNSYLVANIA

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8 mins read

WHERE THINGS STAND IN PENNSYLVANIA TODAY

Pennsylvania broke our hearts in 2016. After being a reliably blue state in Presidential years, it elected Donald Trump and re-elected Senator Pat Toomey in races that Democrats expected to win.

But if 2016 was a wake-up call, Democrats heard it. And that, combined with a fair ruling in the courts, led to a Democratic resurgence shortly thereafter.

It started in early 2018 when Democrat Conor Lamb flipped a Congressional District in a Special Election that Trump carried by 20 points, portending big shifts in the American electorate.

Two months later, Democrats flipped a State Legislative seat in a Special Election.

And in the midst of all of that, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court created new, fairer, un-gerrymandered Congressional District maps compared to those that Republicans had cooked up years earlier.

The result was the 2018 election when Democrats trounced Republicans in statewide elections for Governor and Senate, flipped 3 more Congressional seats, 10 State House seats, and 4 State Senate seats (which was subsequently followed up by another State Senate Special Election win in 2019).

We woke up.

And now we have to stay awake through 2020.

Here are the 7 reasons why.

REASON #1 – FLIP PENNSYLVANIA’S 20 ELECTORAL VOTES

This is the ballgame. If Joe Biden doesn’t win Pennsylvania, we have to make up the 20 Electoral Votes elsewhere, and that will not be an easy task.

In fact I would venture to say that if Joe Biden doesn’t win Pennsylvania, Joe Biden doesn’t win the Presidency. Just like there is no reasonable path for Donald Trump without a state like Florida, there is no reasonable path for us without a state like Pennsylvania.

So let’s rip this state from Trump’s hands and put it back in the blue column where it belongs.

REASON #2 – FLIP THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE HOUSE

It is vital that Democrats flip one or both chambers of the Pennsylvania State Legislature in order to have a bigger say in redistricting in 2021, especially after what the GOP tried to pull in 2011.

The Pennsylvania State House is made up of 203 seats. All 203 seats are up for election this year. Democrats would need a net gain of 9 seats in order to flip the chamber.

And while 9 might sound like a lot (and it is), Democrats have a plethora of flipping opportunities, particularly in suburban areas around Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The best options to flip seats would be in Districts 18, 26, 28, 29, 30, 44, 105, 106, 131, 144, 151, 152, 160, 168, and 178.

Some seats that we need to defend are in Districts 53, 119, and 143.

You can view a map of the Pennsylvania State House Districts here.

REASON #3 – FLIP THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE SENATE

The Pennsylvania State Senate is made up of 50 seats. Only *25* of those seats are up for election this year. Democrats would need a net gain of 4 seats in order to flip the chamber.

4 seats might not sound like much, but there are really only a handful of opportunities, as well as seats that Democrats need to defend.

The best – and some would argue the only – seats to flip are in Districts 9, 13, 15, and 49.

We would also need to defend vulnerable seats like District 37.

You can view a map of the Pennsylvania State Senate Districts here.

REASON #4 – DEFENDING STATEWIDE OFFICES

There are 3 statewide Government offices that are up for election in 2020.

Democrats currently control all three, and we need to hold on to all of them.

These are vital offices for Pennsylvania State Government (particularly the Attorney General). The offices and their respective candidates are:

Attorney GeneralJosh Shapiro (incumbent)

State AuditorNina Ahmad (running to replace Democrat Eugene DePasquale)

TreasurerJoseph Torsella (incumbent)

REASON #5 – FLIPPING MORE CONGRESSIONAL SEATS

After a successful 2018 House election season in Pennsylvania, 2020 offers us the opportunity to flip 3 more seats.

In Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District, Democrat Christina Finello is trying to unseat Brian Fitzpatrick, one of the few remaining Republican Congressmen who represent a district won by Hillary Clinton. Fitzpatrick only won in 2018 by 3.5 points, so this seat is flippable. But despite the suburban trends, Fitzpatrick remains popular and will be tough to defeat.

In Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District, Democrat Eugene DePasquale – who is currently Pennsylvania’s State Auditor – is running to defeat Scott Perry. Perry held on to this seat by only 3.5 points in 2018 despite the district’s Republican tilt, and he recently made some ridiculous remarks about racism in America. Throw in DePasquale’s statewide election pedigree and this reddish seat is in play.

In Pennsylvania’s 16th Congressional District, Democrat Kristy Gnibus is attempting to defeat Mike Kelly. This is a very red seat, but Kelly only garnered 51.6% of the vote in 2018, so there is a weakness there. And Kristy is a single mother, school teacher, and cancer survivor with a compelling story who will bring the fight to this contest.

REASON #6 – DEFENDING VULNERABLE CONGRESSIONAL SEATS

Conversely, we also have 3 House seats that could be vulnerable given the amount of registered Republicans that reside in their districts.

Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional DistrictMatt Cartwright 

Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional DistrictSusan Wild 

Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional DistrictConor Lamb 

Don’t sleep on these contests. Just because we control these seats doesn’t mean that they can’t flip away from us if we take our eye off the ball.

REASON #7 – LOCAL BALLOT MEASURES IN PHILADELPHIA & PITTSBURGH

These ballot measures are specific to Alleghany and Philadelphia counties, and are not on the state-wide ballot. But some of them pertain to issues of law enforcement and criminal justice reform, so anyone who lives in either of these areas should be familiar with the wording of the initiatives so that they can cast an informed vote.

Thank you for taking the time to read about why Pennsylvania is so important this year.

Keep in mind that these are not the only reasons to Focus on Pennsylvania in 2020. There are a number of other local elections worth your time and attention as well.

If you’d like to help Focus on Pennsylvania, please sign up HERE for the DemCast “Focus14” Pennsylvania effort.

And for more analysis, follow me at @trumpstaxes on Twitter.


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