HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) — Top Republican leaders in the Senate and House will retire this year, possibly leaving a leadership void that might impact what this area gets from Harrisburg.
When Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai of Allegheny County and Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Temp Joe Scarnati of Jefferson County, both Republicans, suddenly announced their retirements this year, it stunned political leaders.
“We will not have voices at the table who know Pittsburgh the way that people do who are from here,” Republican political strategist Mike Devanney told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.
In recent years, this region has dominated legislative leadership.
The two Democratic leaders, PA Rep. Frank Dermody of Oakmont and PA Sen. Jay Costa of Forest Hills, also come from Allegheny County.
“Having the four leaders coming from Western Pennsylvania was a huge boon to the region,” noted Devanney.
Devanney says this had economic benefits.
“With working together, there are tremendous opportunities to bring pork back to the area, to develop projects, and really help Pittsburgh on its continued resurgence.”
Senate Democratic Leader Costa says it’s a loss, but our region will still be at the table.
“I think at the end of the day if we still have two of the four leaders in Western Pennsylvania, we will be well-served,” said Costa.
Now there’s no predicting who will replace Turzai and Scarnati, but it looks like the next House Speaker will come from Lancaster County and the next Senate President Pro Temp will come from Centre County.
House Democratic Leader Dermody says because we’re electing new members without seniority, few from southwestern Pennsylvania will be in the running for leadership positions.
“Sixty-five percent, over sixty-five percent, of our caucus has been in the legislature less than five years,” says Dermody. “Now it takes about eight years or so to become a chairman.”