Some voters in South Philadelphia and Delaware County will elect a new Pennsylvania House member Tuesday. The special election for the 185th District is being held because of the death of a longtime Democratic lawmaker who passed away just after winning re-election in November.Robert Donatucci’s widow, Maria Donatucci, hopes to defeat community activist Lewis Harris, the Republican candidate, to win her husband’s seat.Lara Brown, an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Villanova University, said many of the women who have served in legislatures have taken over their husband’s seats. “What usually happens is that the party that has long-held that seat typically talks to the widow about whether or not that would be something of interest,” said Brown. “Because they look at how voters would respond in terms of both the sympathy vote for that lawmaker’s passing, as well as a sense of incumbency or trust that that member’s record would essentially continue on.”Brown said special elections often don’t garner much attention, or voter turnout.
Frankie Lancos is Director of Civic Education for the watchdog group, the Committee of Seventy.
“I suspect that turnout will be very light,” said Lancos. “Not only is it on February 1st, so getting to the polling place is difficult, but we haven’t seen a lot of campaigning going on. I still encourage everybody in the 185th District to get out and vote! It’s an honor to vote and we encourage everybody to get out and do so.”Polls will be open from 7:00 a-m to 8:00 p-m on Tuesday.