State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

The State House Sound Bites Podcast is now called State of the State and is a part of PA Post, a digital-first, citizen-focused news organization to hold Pennsylvania’s government accountable to its citizens.

Wagner won't be replaced, but Senate GOP supermajority remains intact

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jun 6, 2018 4:56 AM

Senator Scott Wagner resigned from the Senate this week, leaving a hole in the GOP delegation that won't be filled until the beginning of next year. (Photo by AP)


(Harrisburg) -- Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack has decided not to call a special election to fill a Senate vacancy left by former York County Republican Scott Wagner--who has resigned to focus on his gubernatorial bid.

The lieutenant governor, who presides over the Senate, said in a statement Tuesday that there's not enough time remaining before November general elections to make a special contest worthwhile--plus, it would be too expensive.

Governor Tom Wolf recently faced a similar decision in scheduling special congressional elections. Federal law didn't allow him to skip the elections entirely, so he opted to hold them concurrently with the November election, under a different congressional map.

Stack said he's not taking that route because it would be "redundant and confusing to voters," plus the winner would serve less than 20 days.

"Therefore," he wrote, "it is my opinion that this is not in the public interest."

The lack of an election leaves a hole in the Republican Senate delegation. But spokeswoman Jenn Kocher shrugged it off.

"Senate Republicans still maintain a veto-proof majority in the Senate, even with resignation of Senator Wagner, simply because it's based upon the number of seated Senators at the time," she said. "With 49 senators, we now need 33 votes, and we maintain that."

In announcing his decision to skip the election, Stack cited a state Election Code provision that allows vacancies to go unfilled if they open less than seven months before the end of a term.

This story has been updated to clarify that Governor Wolf didn't legally have the option not to schedule a special congressional election. 

Published in News, State House Sound Bites

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