Wagner won’t be replaced, but Pa. Senate GOP supermajority remains intact

Lt. Gov. Mike Stack won't call a special election to fill a Pennsylvania Senate vacancy left by former York County Republican Scott Wagner who is running for governor.

Pennsylvania state Sen. Scott Wagner, who is running for the GOP gubernatorial nomination next year, has been urging fellow Republicans not to support a natural gas severance tax — in part because he thinks it would help Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf politically. (AP file photo)

Pennsylvania state Sen. Scott Wagner (AP, file)

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. 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.

Stack, who presides over the Senate, said in a statement Tuesday that there’s not enough time before November general elections to make a special contest worthwhile — and it would be too expensive.

Gov. 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,” and the winner would serve less than 20 days.

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“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 Sen. 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 seven months or sooner before the end of a term.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify that Gov. Tom Wolf didn’t legally have the option not to schedule a special congressional election. 

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