The new term of the Pennsylvania General Assembly has started with an interesting development. Today, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives elected a new Speaker—Representative Mark Rozzi (District 126). Representative Rozzi was Democrat when chosen as Speaker but then he did something truly unusual: he announced that he would no longer caucus with the Democrats & become an independent. Spotlight PA
In a statement he made on Facebook, Speaker Rozzi said, “Beyond honored to be chosen by my colleagues to serve as the next Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives -- I pledge to work for ALL people, not just a political party.” Facebook
This comes at a time when the Democrats were expected to have a majority in the house, but a razor thin one at that. The Democrats won 102 seats in the November election. Although three seats are the subject of Special Elections, those seats are all in Democratic strongholds in Allegheny County. These were the seats of Representative Summer Lee, Lieutenant Governor Austin Davis, and the late Representative Tony DeLuca. Assuming the Democrats win those races as expected, the break-down in the Pennsylvania House will be: 101 Democrats, 101 Republicans with one Independent—the new Speaker.
In Pennsylvania, we have the biggest opportunity to pursue the fulcrum strategy. When a legislature is evenly divided, the political middle can use their leverage to pass legislation designed to appeal to the majority without needing the extremes of either party. In our case, we should leverage everything we have to pass Ranked Choice Voting, Non-partisan final five primaries, and creating Independent Redistricting Commissions. Furthermore, in the past Speaker Rozzi has been supportive of many of these issues. From the Pennsylvania Forward Party’s point of view, this is a great development.
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