Democrats win Pennsylvania’s special election and take control of the state House

Democrat Heather Boyd is projected to win Tuesday’s special election for Pennsylvania’s 163rd state House District, according to the Associated Press, allowing Democrats to retain a narrow hold on the Legislature.

Boyd, a former state legislator and congressional aide, defeated Republican Katie Ford in the race. The district includes parts of Delaware County outside of Philadelphia. The district became vacant earlier this year after Democratic Rep. Michael Zabel (D) resigned amid sexual harassment allegations.

Boyd’s win is a victory for the state’s Democratic governor, Josh Shapiro (D), who faces a Republican-controlled state Senate and House if Ford wins.

Abortion access played a central role in the campaign leading up to Tuesday’s special election, with Boyd aligning Ford with GOP efforts to limit the practice in Pennsylvania. Boyd released an attack ad earlier this month in which Shapiro warned that a GOP majority in the state House would prevent him from vetoing anti-abortion legislation.

However, during a televised debate hosted by WHTM-TV in Harrisburg, owned by The Hill’s parent company Nexstar, Ford said he is personally opposed to abortion but will not work to change the state’s law on the matter.

Abortion was a major factor in last year’s Pennsylvania elections, with suburban voters largely voting Democratic after Democratic candidates made protecting abortion access a key issue. Democrats regained control of the state House for the first time since 2010, and also saw victories at the gubernatorial, Senate and congressional levels.

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