GOP wins supermajority in state Senate

David Weissman, 505-5431/@DispatchDavid
  • Three state Senate seats switched from Democrat to Republican, giving the GOP 34 of 50 seats.
  • The 2/3 supermajority means state GOP senators could overturn any veto from Democratic Gov. Wolf.
  • Republicans also picked up seats in the state House, which now has 123 Republicans in 203 seats.

While Republicans nationwide celebrate their party's nominee winning the presidential election, the Pennsylvania GOP quietly secured victories that will help it to overturn vetoes from Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

File photo of Gov. Tom Wolf.

Republican state Senate candidates won three seats previously held by Democrats, giving the GOP 34 of 50 seats, which represents more than two-thirds and is referred to as a supermajority. A two-thirds vote from the Senate and House is required to overturn a governor's veto, according to the state constitution.

The state House GOP would still need at least 11 Democrat votes to reach the two-thirds needed to overturn a veto.

Republicans were able to take seats from incumbent Democrats in the 15th and 49th districts while winning the open seat in the 35th District that was vacated by Democrat John Wozniak.

Sen. Rob Teplitz, D-Harrisburg, has challenged his loss in the 15th district because of concerns about how elections were handled in Dauphin and Perry counties, according to multiple reports. Teplitz lost to Republican Giovanni DiSanto by more than 3,000 votes, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.

Sen. Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township, said the supermajority was a big deal, and he didn't know if the state had ever had one before.

Sen. Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township, speaks ahead of vice presidential candidate Mike Pence's campaign stop in Manchester Township at Penn Waste Inc. on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. Amanda J. Cain photo

Wagner's seat was not up for re-election on Tuesday.

Jeffrey Sheridan, a spokesman for Wolf's office, wrote in an email that Wolf has been successful in working with Republicans during his first two years in office.

“In the fall session alone, the governor worked with Republicans to pass a package of bills to combat the heroin crisis, legalize ride-sharing in Pennsylvania, reform unemployment compensation and further modernize the sale of liquor and beer," Sheridan wrote.

Sheridan recounted that Wolf also secured more money for education and signed legislation creating a medical marijuana program in the state.

The Republican Party also added four seats in the state House. GOP representatives will now account for 123 of 203 seats.

Hill-Evans takes 95th District seat

Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township, who won re-election in an unopposed race, pointed out that the Republican victories came in districts where a majority of residents are registered as Democrats.

Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township, speaks at the Republican Committee election watch in the White Rose Room at PeoplesBank Park, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2016. John A. Pavoncello photo

"It says we're on the right track with what we're saying," Saylor said, adding that Republican control in the General Assembly isn't necessarily cause for celebration. "Now comes the challenge, making sure we are getting accomplished what we want to get accomplished."

Pennsylvania sided with Republican Donald Trump for the presidential vote after siding with the Democratic candidate in the previous six presidential elections.

— Reach David Weissman at or on Twitter @DispatchDavid.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the Senate GOP's supermajority would allow it to overturn any governor vetoes, but a two-thirds vote is required by the state Senate and House to overturn a veto. The House GOP do not have a supermajority.