Did you know Spotlight PA is a nonprofit? Learn more about our nonpartisan journalism »
Skip to main content
Main content

Control of Pa. House within reach for Democrats


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Jordan Wolman
October 27, 2020
Big spending and big goals, the Amish vote, ballot harvesting, a Trump threat, and the toughest corn maze. It's Tuesday, T-minus X days to the election.

Pennsylvania Democrats are in striking distance of taking control of the state House, Spotlight PA reports with The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Buoyed by President Donald Trump's unpopularity in the suburbs, strategists in both parties see a path for Democrats to pick up a net gain of nine seats to win the majority. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report recently moved the 203-seat chamber from Lean Republican to Toss Up.

The Senate, however, will be a tougher battle. Democrats there need to gain four seats, but Republicans are slightly favored. Still, experts aren't ruling out a total Democratic takeover.

The Context: The GOP took over the state House in 2010 and built up significant advantages there and in the Senate during President Barack Obama's presidency. But, thanks in large part to Trump, Democrats are eyeing a return to majority power in 2020.

A lot is on the line. The legislature will face some unique challenges in the coming year, including continued budget shortfalls, how to address the coronavirus, and redrawing congressional districts. 

It's also the last chance for Gov. Tom Wolf to have total party control, allowing him the votes he needs to execute his progressive agenda during his last two years in office. That's likely a big motivating factor for Republicans. With no more straight-ticket voting, there is a contingent of voters who might abandon Trump for Biden but not also support state Democratic candidates.

Wolf is fighting for control with some serious cash. A new Spotlight PA analysis of campaign finance reports shows the Democratic governor's political committee has spent $2.8 million on state House and Senate races this year. Republican-leaning groups are countering with cash of their own.

Just four committees, including Wolf's, have alone spent more than $16.9 million in 2020. While some went to other races, such as for attorney general, the figure gives a window into the high-stakes legislative contest.

If ever you were doubting it, your vote means a lot this year. Today at 5 p.m. is the deadline to request a mail-in ballot. If you already have one, officials are uring you to mail it immediately. With ongoing court challenges, there is no guarantee mail-in ballots will be counted if they arrive after Nov. 3.


“I read in the Bible, my Kingdom is not of this world. As followers of Jesus, we don’t believe in political power.” 

–– An Amish man from southern York County on why he doesn't vote
POST IT: Evening falls in this photo of Nixon Park in York County, submitted by Patricia RSend us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
ON MY OWN: It may seem innocent enough, but if your neighbor offers to take your ballot to a local drop box or election office, just say no. In Pennsylvania, third-party ballot delivery is not allowed, unless the voter has a disability or emergency, Spotlight PA reports.

TRUMP TOUR: With just one week until Election Day, President Donald Trump made several stops in Pennsylvania on Monday, with rallies in Northampton, Lancaster, and Blair Counties. At one rally, Trump called out Wolf and threatened to withhold COVID-19 aid. He also urged his supporters to be poll watchers, but not just anyone can do that.

HUNKER DOWN: Trump's rallies come as Pennsylvania experiences a serious rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Some of the state's top doctors are seeing worrying trends and bracing for a tough winter, with a possibly prolonged resurgence as gatherings move indoors in the cold weather, PennLive reports.

'IRATE, CRYING': That's how The Inquirer described a West Philly neighborhood Monday evening after police shot and killed Walter Wallace Jr., who was wielding a knife in the street and refusing to drop it. Neighbors said officers were not in imminent danger. Family said Wallace Jr. suffered from mental illness and was on medication. "Why didn’t they use a taser?” his father, Wallace Sr., asked after his son was killed.  

A FAMILIAR FACE: Remember the 2018 gubernatorial election? Kind of? Well, maybe you also remember Paul Mango and his unsuccessful GOP bid. Now, the Capital-Star reports, he's playing a critical role in Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s initiative to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

» A Q&A JUST FOR YOU: On the eve of the election, grab a cup of coffee and join our team of political experts to get all of your questions answered. Learn more and register for free here.

TWO YEARS AGO: Today marks the second anniversary of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting, which left 11 people dead. The city of Pittsburgh is asking people to observe a moment of silence at 9:54 a.m., while there will be a virtual remembrance at 7 p.m.

SAVED YOU 40 CLICKS: Obviously, you're not the type of person who gives out apples or — gasp! — toothbrushes on Halloween. No, you wanna give the kids what they really want. And according to a really long slideshow of the most popular candy in each state, that's Hershey's mini bars in Pennsylvania. 

LITTLE HELPERS: Stuck at home but trying to make the best of it? Teach your little ones some simple cooking skills. No kids at home? Honestly, this mac and cheese recipe still sounds pretty good.

TOASTED: Restaurants across the state are looking to get creative as the chilly weather sets in but indoor dining is still restricted. The ideas are as simple as providing blankets and as unique as building greenhouses

SEE YOU NEVER? A corn maze in Lancaster County was just named one of the toughest in the nation. Good luck getting out!

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out the winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.

Yesterday's answer: Blandishment 

Congrats to our winners: Chip K., Patricia R., Mary Ellen T., Edward M., George D., Tracey C., David I., Dan P., George S., Brandie K., Robert S., Carol D., Lynne E., Chris W., Ron P., Beth T., Joel S., and John P.
Like PA Post? Share it with a friend.

Love PA Post? Chip in to support local journalism.

Forwarded this newsletter? Subscribe here.
Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and WITF Public Media.

Copyright © Spotlight PA / The Philadelphia Inquirer, All rights reserved.

Spotlight PA
225 Market St., Suite 502A
Harrisburg, PA 17101

You're receiving this email because you subscribed to PA Post, which has combined with Spotlight PA to create Pennsylvania's largest statewide newsroom dedicated to accountability journalism.

You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.