Special election to be held in Delaware County with Pa. House control at stake

By6abc Digital Staff and Associated Press WPVI logo
Monday, May 15, 2023

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A special election being held in Delaware County on Tuesday is likely to determine control of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, with implications for abortion rights, the 2024 presidential contest and Gov. Josh Shapiro's agenda.

Democrat Heather Boyd, Republican Katie Ford and Libertarian Alfe Goodwin are seeking to replace Rep. Mike Zabel to represent House District 163.

Zabel, a Democrat, resigned in March after a labor lobbyist accused him of sexually harassing her.

Ford is a military veteran, school volunteer and behavioral therapist; Boyd is a former congressional and state legislative aide; Goodwin previously worked as a police officer, was a brigade command chaplain, and founded Follow Your Bliss LLC.

Map showing District 163 in Delaware County:

Source: vote.pa.gov

After 12 years with majority Republican control of the House, Democrats flipped a net of 12 seats in November, then held the one-vote majority by sweeping three special elections in February. There is a second vacancy being filled in Tuesday's voting, a Republican-majority district in central Pennsylvania that is not expected to change hands.

Not counting the two open seats, Democrats have a 101-100 House majority, so a Ford victory would likely give Republicans enough votes to restore one of their own to the speakership and control the House voting calendar and agenda. The state Senate has a Republican majority.

Pennsylvania is a swing state, but the great majority of House Republicans hold conservative positions on social issues, election law and government spending. Democrats losing the chamber would make it more difficult for Shapiro, a Democrat in his first year, to pursue his agenda just as intensive negotiations get underway ahead of the June 30 state budget deadline.