Pennsylvania Primary Wins Mean Women Are About to Break Up the Congressional Boys' Club

Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery, addresses her colleagues, as they debate the budget on the floor of the House of Representatives at the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg Tuesday June 30, 2015.
Image: AP

After at least seven women swept Pennsylvania’s primary election for House seats on Tuesday night, there’s a decent chance that the 2018 midterm elections will finally break up the state’s entirely male congressional delegation. As the Wall Street Journal points out, Pennsylvania’s senators, 18 House representatives, and five statewide elected officials are all dudes.

Trump narrowly won the swing state in the 2016 election. The New York Times reports that the women, who ran in record numbers in Pennsylvania, won in districts redrawn after the state Supreme Court in January ruled that the existing map illegally benefitted Republicans. State Rep. Madeleine Dean won the three-way primary in the redrawn 4th Congressional District; in a three-way race in the Lehigh Valley, attorney Susan Wild beat District Attorney John Morganelli. Mary Gay Scanlon, a lawyer from the Philadephia suburbs, emerged as the Democratic primary winner in a race that included five other women, and will face off against another woman—Republican nominee and former deputy attorney general Pearl Kim—the sole woman running for a Republican house seat. By the way, they are running for the seat vacated by Republican Rep. Pat Meehan, a former prosecutor who resigned after being accused of using taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment accusation made against him by a former aide.


Other winners include former Air Force captain Chrissy Houlahan of the 6th Congressional District, and Jess King, a former non-profit director backed by Bernie Sanders, from the 11th Congressional District. Both ran unopposed. Former congressional aide Bibiana Boerio deafeated three men in the 14th Congressional district primary, and first-time candidate Indiana University of Pennsylvania professor Susan Boser easily defeated the other candidate, Wade Jodun.

Pennsylvania’s election was perhaps the most exciting (and critical, for Democrats hoping to flip Republican seats in 2018) of last night’s four, but women made gains across the country, too. In Nebraska, nonprofit director Kara Eastman—who supports Medicare for all, overturning Citizens United, and decriminalizing marijuana, among other progressive causes—beat a former US Congressman. In Idaho, Paulette Jordan won the Democratic gubernatorial primary; she could become the first Native American governor in the United States, the Hill reports.


Notably, many of the women won on platforms that would push Democrats farther left—for example, in Pittsburgh, two young state representative candidates Summer Lee (backed by the Democratic Socialists of America in Pittsburgh) and Sara Innamorato beat popular, centrist long-time state representatives (and cousins) Paul and Dom Costa, respectively. Nebraska’s Eastman beat former Rep. Brad Ashford, a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee-backed candidate who has repeatedly supported anti-abortion measures. Morganelli, the Pennsylvania democrat who lost to Susan Wild, holds an anti-abortion stance and supports Trump’s immigration plan. 

“Susan Wild is part of the wave,” Morganelli said after his loss. “The women are out there.”

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Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is a senior reporter at Jezebel.

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