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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf in a major endorsement of Democrats who are seeking a legislative supermajority is asking the party leadership to hold a special election to fill the seat of retiring Rep. Jim Traficant, a prominent critic of the GOP-led Legislature.
Wolf, a Democrat whose approval rating has fallen to a decade low among the Philadelphia suburbs, made the statement on Facebook on Friday that he’s confident Pennsylvania’s Republican-dominated legislature can change by March.
The seat was vacant when Traficant, 63, was first elected to Congress from northern Pennsylvania in 1990. He’s served in the House since he was first elected in 1999 and is chairman of the House Transportation and Housing and Environment Committee.
“During my time in Congress, I have never wavered in my belief that Pennsylvania needs change in the Republican-led House of Representatives — and we are ready to do it,” Wolf said.
Wolf said he wants the special election to help Democratic lawmakers in the special election for the Republican-held House seat, which has an easy GOP incumbent in incumbent Rep. Mike Kelly.
In addition to the Democratic field crowded with several top names, there are two Republicans — Reps. Pat Meehan and Mike Lujan — and three independents — Rep. Pat Meehan of Bucks County, Rep. Mike Meeks of Luzerne County and Rep. Scott Milne of Cumberland County.
Republican leaders haven’t asked for a special election, so it’s unclear whether Republicans would want to see their House majority diminished. Wolf, in office since 2012, has made clear his preference to remain in the legislature until 2024, and his party is likely to be locked in a tight and contentious race to replace him.
It is likely that the governor would have to run a write-in campaign for his own seat, which he has held since 2006.
The three-way contest would be one of the closest House races of the year and Wolf is counting on Democratic support, which is not particularly close, to be crucial as he seeks re-election.
The Republican field consists of former state Sen. Daylin Leach, former Pennsylvania Senate President pro Tem Tom Marino and former Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai.
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