It’s one for the books. Philadelphia is sending a Republican to Harrisburg.
Republican Martina White, a 26 year-old financial adviser, cruised to an easy victory in a special election to fill the Northeast Philadelphia state house seat vacated by Brendan Boyle, who went to Congress in January.
Democrats hold a two-to-one registration edge in the district, but both politics and timing combined to undo the Democratic candidate, Sarah Del Ricci.
Northeast Philadelphia Democrats squabbled over who the party should run for the seat. Some union leaders angry that Lt. Gov. Mike Stack favored Del Ricci chose to support White, the Republican.
In a telephone interview, White said many unions, including the Fraternal Order of Police, were enornmously helpful.
“They were out there door-knocking, making sure the voters came to the polls, making calls to remind them about the election,” White said. “I couldn’t be more grateful.”
In addition, the decision by Republican State House Speaker Mike Turzai to hold the special election now, rather than when polls open May 19 for the primary elections, played into the GOP’s hands.
A big Democratic turnout for the Philadelphia mayoral primary would no doubt have made it harder for the GOP to snare this seat.
Joe DeFelice, the executive director of the Republican City Committee, said it was big night for a party struggling to compete in the city.
“We had an awesome ground game, with support from the state party, the HRCC [House Republican Campaign Committee], and labor. They really delivered,” DeFelice said.
“It was an opportunity for people to come together and realize we can win as a Republican Party in Philadelphia. We’re adding an extra voice to the majority caucus in Philadelphia that can advocate for Philadelphia.”
White’s win gives the GOP a 120 to 83 edge over Democrats in the state House.
White will join Northeast Philadelphia State Rep. John Taylor as the city’s two-person GOP Republican contingentHarrisburg. Her challenge will be to hold onto the seat when she runs for re-election next year. White said she expects to do just that.
“I plan to make sure that I maintain the people’s trust, hold myself and those that are in office accountable for their actions, and provide great service to constituents,” she said.