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Pa. county GOP committee condemns fellow lawmakers for supporting Democrat for House Speaker

  • Rachel McDevitt/StateImpact Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Mark Rozzi is photographed at the speaker's podium, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Smith)

Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Mark Rozzi is photographed at the speaker's podium, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Smith)

The Berks County Republican Committee says GOP state lawmakers’ votes to elect a Democrat as Speaker of the House damages the party’s reputation.

The Reading Eagle reports the committee voted unanimously to censure 16 Republican lawmakers who voted for Rep. Mark Rozzi (D-Berks) to lead the House.

Rozzi’s district is outside Reading, but none of the Republican lawmakers represent Berks County.

Rozzi’s office did not return a request for comment Tuesday. The Berks County Republican Committee did not return phone or email requests.

The resolution says the vote is a betrayal of Republican voters and makes the party look weak.

Muhlenberg College political science professor Chris Borick said that’s a flawed argument.

“One might flip that, easily, and say look, it’s making the party look like it wants to compromise to get things done,” Borick said.

A censure vote is a formal disapproval, but it’s only a symbolic gesture.

Borick said the censure vote speaks to the state of politics right now, where some only want to stop the other party from claiming any victories.

He said the resolution implies that Republican voters only want lawmakers to advance the party’s interests.

“I don’t know if that’s necessarily always the case. Voters might also want to see progress in Harrisburg, they might want to see compromise on certain issues – not everything but some issues,” Borick said.

Rozzi’s election to speaker was a surprise.

Democrats won a narrow majority of seats in the House for this session, but one member’s death and two others’ ascension to higher office gave Republicans a functional majority.

Rozzi was nominated by Rep. Jim Gregory (R-Blair), who has worked with Rozzi to try to open a window for past clergy abuse survivors to sue their abusers.

Rozzi promised to lead as an independent and not caucus with either party.

Gregory has since called on Rozzi to resign the speakership because Rozzi hasn’t officially registered as an independent.

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