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|Correction: We're resending today's version to correct erroneous reporting by CNN that Josh Shapiro is the state's first Jewish governor. In fact, that was Milton Shapp, who was governor from 1971 to 1979. Shapp's original last name was Shapiro but he changed it out of concern for antisemitism, according to the state archives. Thank you to our early-morning readers who spotted the error.|
House control, Shapiro's future, disgruntled in Dimock, fatal force, climate-changed, Kennywood crime, and political tourists in Pa. It's Thursday.
At a celebratory news conference on Wednesday, Pennsylvania Democrats said they believe they will win enough state House seats from Tuesday’s midterm election to control the chamber for the first time since 2010.
The party was expected to pick up several seats after a redistricting cycle that produced new political lines that account for population shifts from GOP-leaning rural areas to suburban and urban areas populated by Democrats.
But unofficial results show that Democrats could also flip or win a number of competitive, Republican-controlled seats this time.
The Associated Press had yet to call many of the closest races as of Wednesday, and litigation over certain ballots appeared likely.
Read Spotlight PA's full report: Democrats believe they will take control of the Pennsylvania House for the first time in more than a decade.
THE CONTEXT: Securing a majority would give Democrats the power to set the chamber’s agenda in 2023, an increasingly likely outcome that has come as a surprise to many inside and outside the party.
The state House will swear in its new members Jan. 3 and elect a new speaker. Democrats will likely nominate state House Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton of Philadelphia for the role.
She’d be the first woman to run the chamber and the highest-ranking woman in the history of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
At Wednesday's news conference outside of Philadelphia's Independence Hall, McClinton and her colleagues were elated at the prospect.
“We've had an agenda to defend democracy for a long time, and we finally will get ready to enact it as we go into 2023,” she said.
|NOTABLE / QUOTABLE|
“It wasn’t enough that you just shaved margins in rural counties. You had to have a big Democratic vote, as well.”
—U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) on the Democratic Party's gains in Pa.'s suburbs and even Trump-friendly rural areas on Tuesday
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|A definitive chipmunk sighting, this one via Michelle T. Send us your pictures by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania. |
|GUV FIGHTS: Democrat Josh Shapiro won big in Tuesday’s election, outperforming John Fetterman at the top of the ticket — and even President Joe Biden in 2020 — in almost every Pennsylvania county. But there will be roadblocks ahead for his ambitious agenda as Pennsylvania's 48th governor. Spotlight PA previews the looming battles over budgets, election laws, environmental rules, and more.|
DIMOCK DELAYS: A town in Susquehanna County that became a symbol of fracking's pollutive potential has waited years for a resolution in a case brought against the company that fouled its water. It was Josh Shapiro, in his role as state Attorney General, who pressed the charges. But Capital & Main, in a report published before Election Day, found some residents doubting his commitment to the cause.
GOOD SAMARITAN: Witnesses say Kenneth Vinyard, 48, was helping the victim of a shooting outside a Walmart in Beaver County on Sunday when he was confronted by an off-duty police officer and fatally wrestled to the ground. A lawyer is calling it a deliberate "takedown." The Beaver County Times (paywall) reports State Police are investigating the incident and the unidentified Center Township officer's actions.
FARM CHANGE: Data show the number of "growing degree days" in Pennsylvania has been on the rise since the 1970s and that crop planting zones have been moving north. StateImpact reports that's changing what Pennsylvania farmers are planting and what's likely to show up at your local farmers market. For some farmers, business as usual is a thing of the past. They're prepping for a future of climate change.
DROPPED: A judge has dismissed all charges against a 15-year-old arrested in connection with September's shooting at Kennywood Park near Pittsburgh, citing a lack of supporting evidence, WTAE reports. The teen was among three people injured. Police said they were looking for a second shooter but so far no other arrests have been made. It is unclear how firearms made it past the park's security measures.
SEPTA STING: Federal authorities have charged a former SEPTA manager with raking in cash payments, hotel stays, meals, and Streisand tickets in exchange for helping a surveillance camera company secure millions of dollars worth of contracts with the transit agency, KYW reports.
TOUR BUST: Billy Penn reports that a group of British and Australian tourists came to Philadelphia last week for a firsthand look at the "huge battles" of the U.S. midterms and wound up irritating local canvassers.
KOTEK WINS: The nation's first openly lesbian governors were elected in Massachusetts and Oregon on Tuesday. The latter, Democrat Tina Kotek, is a York County native who was profiled by PennLive in October.
MORE FIRSTS: CNN reports Tuesday's election also delivered Pennsylvania's first Black lieutenant governor, Austin Davis, and its first Black congresswoman, Summer Lee.
CASE CLOSED: A group of Lancaster County nuns who argued a natural gas pipeline on their property "defiles" God's creation and violates their religious beliefs has lost a legal bid for compensation from the company.
Unscramble and send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 6 p.m. on issue date will be counted
N H I A S S N I G T O
Yesterday's answer: Deprivation
Congrats to our daily winners: Craig W., Susan N.-Z., George S., Wendy A., Don H., Barbara F., John F., Michelle T., Susan D., Craig E., Kim C., Beth T., Nancy S., James B., Karen W., Patricia M., Bill S., John P., Dianne K., Jon W., and Starr B.