Specials Are So Nice, They’ll Host Them Twice
Charlie Dent’s decision to resign prior to the end of this term means Pennsylvania will host a second special U.S. House election during the 115th Congress – on November 6th if not before. This will be the first time more than one special election to the chamber has been held in Pennsylvania during one cycle since the 92nd Congress (1971-1973) when Republicans John Heinz and William Conover won specials in the 18th and 27th CDs respectively. Prior to the last half-century, however, it was quite common. From the 57th Congress after the turn of the century through the 88th Congress (1963-1965) there were 16 cycles in which more than one special election took place in the Keystone State. There were four such elections in Pennsylvania during three congresses: 71st (1929-1931), 72nd (1931-1933), and 77th (1941-1943). There were three specials in eight: 59th (1905-1907), 62nd (1911-1913), 78th (1943-1945), 79th (1945-1947), 82nd (1951-1953), 85th (1957-1959), 86th (1959-1961), and 88th (1963-1965). And two specials in five: 57th (1901-1903), 58th (1903-1905), 66th (1919-1921), 70th (1927-1929), and 84th (1955-1957).
It appears that specials are so nice, they’ll host them thrice! Rep. Pat Meehan, a Republican from Pennsylvania’s 7th district, decided today to resign effective immediately rather than finish out his term (he had already announced that he was not seeking re-election), thus prompting a third special election in the Keystone State this year.
Incidentally, Meehan is the second Republican congressman from Pennsylvania to resign in 2018 in the wake of a sex-related scandal, and the sixth congressman overall to resign in 2017 or 2018 due to such fallout (after Reps. Tim Murphy (R-PA), John Conyers (D-MI), Trent Franks (R-AZ), and Blake Farenthold (R-TX), and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)).