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Pennsylvania Republicans Elect ‘Democrat-Turned-Independent’ as House Speaker

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

A Democrat who “promised to govern as an independent” was elected speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives after garnering more than a dozen votes from Republican members, according to the The Philadelphia Inquirer.


House members elected Rep. Mark Rozzi as speaker of the House, who is a “veteran Democrat lawmaker” who promised this week to “govern as an independent.” Reportedly, some Republicans threw their support behind Rozzi though the House is “narrowly divided” (via Associated Press):

Democrats flipped a net of 12 seats in November, the minimum amount needed to take over the chamber, 102-101, after more than a decade in the minority.

But that margin is now 101-99 with the three vacancies that will remain open until at least February. Rozzi left questions unanswered Tuesday night about how the chamber will operate in the meantime and who will function as the majority.

In brief remarks on the House floor, Rozzi said he would be independent and pledged not to caucus with either Republicans or Democrats and to staff his office with members of both parties. He decried dysfunction and obstruction in the chamber’s politics and said “never has this House been so divided.”

“I pledge allegiance and loyalty to no interest in this building, to no interest in our politics, I pledge my loyalty to the people of the commonwealth,” Rozzi said in his remarks.

Democrats said Rozzi will remain a Democrat and not switch his registration to independent. But Republicans insisted otherwise Tuesday night, saying that Rozzi will become an independent. Assuming Democrats retain the three open seats, Rozzi as an independent would tie the House at 101-101, when every seat is filled.


“The speakership is a nonpartisan — and I want to repeat that — nonpartisan officer of the House, entrusted with maintaining the integrity of the House,” Rozzi told reporters. “That will be my focus as speaker.”

Every Democrat and 16 Republicans backed Rozzi, AP noted. 

Townhall covered how the November election in Pennsylvania was disrupted by the death of Tony DeLuca, a Democrat who served in the state legislature for nearly 4o years. On Election Day, DeLuca won more than 85 percent of the vote in his district. However, he passed away the month prior to lymphoma. When he passed, election officials said it was too late to change the ballots. Instead, a special election would be held to fill the seat.  

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