As befits a Keystone State that produced any number of once-in-a-generation shocks Tuesday, the split-ticket results will make for an interesting January in Harrisburg. That’s when Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the newly elected Democratic attorney general, treasurer and auditor general will co-exist alongside a House with a Republican majority – 122-81 – not seen in 60 years, and a Senate with a Republican supermajority for the first time in generations.
Even though the mind boggles at choosing from among the myriad of winners and losers in the wake of the election, the following stand out from the pack.
Pat Toomey: Despite a number of questionable moves, including spending the entire campaign playing defense over his refusal to either endorse or disavow his party’s presidential nominee – even going so far as taking the extremely unusual step of waiting until just before the polls closed to cast his vote for President-elect Donald Trump – the GOP US Senate incumbent eked out a victory over challenger Katie McGinty. Based on how long it took him to give his seal of approval, maybe he’s telling the truth when he says he won’t be a rubber stamp for Trump.
PA Senate Republicans: With convincing victories across the state on Tuesday, and now in possession of 34 out of 50 seats, the GOP can now override any vetoes that emanate from the Governor’s Mansion. And one of their own, Sen. Scott Wagner, announced that he will be taking on Gov. Wolf in 2018.
State row-office candidates: Ticket-splitting was the key to a clean sweep for Democrats, as Josh Shapiro overcame the stigma of disgraced former AG Kathleen Kane to defeat state Sen. John Rafferty; Joe Torsella fended off Republican Otto Voit, the Green Party’s Kristin Combs and the Libertarian Party's James Babb to become treasurer; and incumbent Eugene DePasquale beat Republican challenger John Brown to win a second term as auditor general.
Katie McGinty: Like Democratic candidates across the state and the country, McGinty’s fortunes seemed assured by polls, pundits and prognosticators, right up to the point when they weren’t. A series of missteps throughout the campaign prevented her from gaining enough separation from Toomey to escape becoming another victim of Trump’s surprisingly long coattails. As a result, she has become the answer to the question: Who was on the losing end of the most expensive US Senate campaign in history? At least, she will be until someone replaces her in 2018.
Gov. Tom Wolf: See above. Staring down a Republican Legislature for the duration of his term is one thing; knowing that the Senate now wields veto override authority is another.
Affordable Health Care plan-holders: For two million Pennsylvanians, health care just got a lot murkier. With Republican majorities in both the US Senate and House of Representatives, and a president-elect all expressing a desire to end the ACA as soon as possible – despite failing to come up with a viable alternative – it doesn’t look good for those currently covered by the ACA.