Campaign signs for Heather Boyd and Katie Ford are seen, Thursday, May 4, 2023, in Aldan, Pa. The two are running in a special election in the Philadelphia suburbs that will determine whether Democrats in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives will maintain control of the chamber or if Republicans will reclaim the majority control they held for 12 years until this January. (Photo: AP/Matt Slocum)

Republican Michael Stender on Tuesday won a special election for a vacant central Pennsylvania seat in the state House of Representatives, a GOP hold that means majority control of the chamber will be decided by a second special election, in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Stender, a Shikellamy school board member, firefighter and former EMT, was endorsed by former Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver, the Republican who represented the district before winning a state Senate special election earlier this year. Stender beat Democrat Trevor Finn, a Montour County commissioner. The district also includes part of Northumberland County.

Stender’s win gives Republicans 101 seats, one less than the minimum needed to control the agenda in the 203-member House chamber. The Associated Press has not called the second special election, in Delaware County.

If Republicans retake the House, freshman Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro will have no chamber to aid his agenda going into the final month of budget negotiations. The state Senate is firmly in Republican control.

A Republican House could also vote to put a proposed constitutional amendment limiting abortion rights before voters as a referendum.

Republicans entered the 2022 election with a 113-90 advantage in the state House, but Democrats flipped a net of 12 seats in November, barely enough to claim majority status and elect one of their own as speaker. They held that majority by sweeping three special elections held in February.


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