Friday, November 17, 2006

Tony Phyrillas: Who will control the House?

Control of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives could be determined Tuesday.

As of Friday, Republicans and Democrats each hold 101 seats in the 203 House. Republicans claim they won the final contest, the race for Chester County’s 156th Dist., but the counting continues. Another close race, in Chester County's 167th Dist., is also being reviewed by elections officials.

Republican Shannon Royer apparently won the 157th seat on Election Day by 19 votes over Democrat McIlvaine Smith. Unofficial results have Royer with 11,500 to McIlvaine Smith’s 11, 481 votes.

But the results are not yet officials, leaving some doubt over which party will control the state House in 2007 and who gets to be Speaker of the House.

Chester County officials issued the following statement Friday afternoon:

"The Provisional Board has finished reviewing all voters’ registration issues for the 156th District. The determination is that, of the 38 provisional ballots cast on Election Day, only 20 were validated for inclusion in the final vote count. The Provisional Board validation process began today for the 167th, in which 64 provisional voters will be reviewed. The Board of Elections will meet Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2006, at 10:30 am to hear challenges concerning the provisional and absentee ballots cast in the 156th and 167th Legislative Districts. The meeting will be held in room 171 of the Government Services Center, located at 601 Westtown Road in West Chester, PA.The Computation Board has completed the process for all precincts in Chester County, except for those precincts within the 156th and 167th districts. Until all challenges have been heard and decided upon, the districts cannot be certified."

In the 167th Dist., unofficial results show Republican Duane Milne received 13,309 votes, and Democrat Anne R. Crowley had 13,173 votes. Democrats have challenged the results.

Before the Nov. 7 election, Republicans held 109 seats in the House. The GOP's best-case scenario is a loss of 7 seats. And this is why the Republican caucus re-elected John Perzel as speaker and Sam Smith as majority leader? These two men presided over the loss of those 7 seats.

Perzel and Smith were also behind the July 20005 pay raise fiasco that started the whole anti-incumbent movement. Perzel and Smith also blocked all reforms and oppose efforts to eliminate property taxes.

If Republicans are wondering why they're no longer in control in Pennsylvania, look no further than Perzel and Smith (and the dimwitted Republicans who re-elected them as their caucus leaders).

Tony Phyrillas is a columnist for The Mercury in Pottstown, Pa. E-mail him at tphyrillas@pottsmerc.com