While the ‘blue wave’ didn’t quite materialize, Democrats did take control of the House of Representatives and the midterm elections will still go down in history as cementing 2018 as another “year of the woman.”
In Pennsylvania, four women, all Democrats, were elected to Congress – the first women ever to be elected to the state’s Congressional delegation. A victory for the Democratic party following the state’s Supreme Court decision that found the state’s districts unconstitutionally gerrymandered and gave unfair weight to Republican voters.
“Our democracy may not be perfect – but it is our greatest hope, and that of many around the world. And the light of our nation shines a bit brighter today,” said U.S. Representative-elect Mary Gay Scanlon, elected to represent the new 5th District, covering most of Delaware County. “Each and every one of you share a piece of this victory. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”
Scanlon won, along with Madeleine Dean in the 4th District (Montgomery County); Chrissy Houlahan in the 6th District (Chester County), and Susan Wild in the 7th District (Northampton/Lehigh counties).
The last “year of the woman” 1992, when more women were elected to Congress than any year prior, in what was identified as a backlash to the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, following testimony from his former subordinate at the Equal Employment Opportunity office, now Brandeis University professor Anita Hill, that he sexually harassed her while on the job.
“Our victory tonight belongs to you. Thank you PA-06,” Houlahan said in a statement after her victory. “I couldn’t be prouder to be your next Representative.”
Nationwide, the midterms seemed to be in significant part, a referendum on President Donald Trump. The newly elected Democrats all rejected Trump’s policies and platforms across the board.
“To all the women and men who knocked doors, phone banked, put signs out in their yards, convinced a neighbor to vote, showed up, spoke truth to power, and cast their ballots yesterday: thank you, thank you, thank you,” Wild said after her win. “This win is yours. There’s just one thing left to say: Let’s get to work.”
Some credited the wins to greater participation of youth voter and voters of color – like NextGen PA, a political action committee funded by liberal billionaire Tom Steyer.
“Today, young Pennsylvanians turned out in record numbers to overwhelmingly reject the agenda of bigotry and fear used by Republicans like Scott Wagner and Lou Barletta and elect a record number of women to Congress.” NextGen PA said in a statement after the midterms. “NextGen Pennsylvania is proud of the work it has done to register, engage, and empower the young voters who represent the future of American politics, and we will continue our work to build a more inclusive and just democracy here in Pennsylvania.”
The races didn’t break down completely along gender and party lines.
State Rep. Martina White, a Republican whose district is partly in Northeast Philly and partly in Bucks County, won her campaign for reelection despite the district reportedly having a two-to-one ratio of Democrat to Republican residents.
And long-time community activist Patty-Pat Kozlowski, a former Philly Parks and Recreation Employee, lost her race as a GOP nominee to become Pa. State Rep. for the 177th district in Northeast Philly long held by retiring Republican state rep. John Taylor. She was defeated by Democrat Joe Hohenstein.
In the 1st Congressional District, representing Bucks County, Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick edged out Democratic challenger Scott Wallace.
In other Philly-area Congress races, Democrat Brendan Boyle was elected to represent the 2nd District, and U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans run reelection to represent the 3rd District.
Other notable women elected in the Philly area include new Democratic state rep.-elects Elizabeth Fiedler and Mary-Louise Isaacson (former chief of staff to the late state rep. Mike O’Brien).
Democrat Malcolm Kenyatta, a North Philly antive, became the first gay African American man elected to the state legislature after winning his race for Pa. state rep. for the 181st District.