HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Republicans are declaring victory in a special election for a vacant state Senate seat in a heavily Republican district in northern Pennsylvania.
The Republican candidate, state Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver, led Democrat Patricia Lawton by a more than two-to-one margin in preliminary returns from Tuesday's special election.
Once results are certified, Culver will be sworn in to the Senate in late February and will bring the 50-seat chamber to a full complement with a 28-22 Republican majority, Senate Republicans leaders said.
Culver will fill the seat of former Sen. John Gordner, who resigned Nov. 30 to become a staff lawyer for Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland. The term lasts until Nov. 30, 2024.
Culver is currently serving her seventh term in the state House of Representatives from Northumberland County. The Senate seat covers Columbia, Montour, Northumberland and Snyder counties as well as part of Luzerne County,
Before she is sworn in, Culver will have to resign her seat in the House, where paralysis over which party has the majority has stalled business in the chamber this year. A special election will then be scheduled to fill the House seat.
The House currently has 101 Republicans and 99 Democrats. A special election scheduled for Tuesday will fill vacancies in three Democratic-leaning seats in Allegheny County.