Pennsylvania state House elects first independent speaker with GOP backing
Republicans currently hold a majority, though Democrats could tie-up their totals should they claim all of the currently vacant seats.
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Pennsylvania state Rep. Mark Rozzi, a former Democrat, became the state's first independent Speaker of the House on Tuesday after enough Republicans threw their support behind his dark horse bid.
At present, Republicans hold 101 seats in the chamber while Democrats have 98. There are three vacant seats. Rozzi has promised to caucus with neither party, according to PennLive. Sixteen Republicans crossed the aisle to vote for Rozzi, while all Democrats did so.
Rep. Carl Walker Metzgar, R-Somerset, received 85 votes, and quickly congratulated Rozzi on his victory.
"I pledge my allegiance and my loyalty to no interests in this building and to no interest in our politics. I pledge my loyalty to the people of the Commonwealth," Rozzi said.
Rep. Jim Gregory, R-Blair County, nominated Rozzi, saying the deeply divided chamber and the possibility of shifting majorities made such an unprecedented candidate the ideal choice to see the House through the term.
"As we are gathered in this chamber today, we must look at our razor-thin majorities, and the likelihood of shifting majorities throughout this session," Gregory said. "It's time to put aside the letters that come after our names, and it's time to focus on the titles in front of them."
"To do this, we need a speaker like Mark Rozzi, who has a proven history of making tough decisions for people over politics," he continued while nominating Rozzi.
Republicans currently hold a majority, though Democrats could tie their totals should they claim all of the currently vacant seats. Rozzi's independent status would theoretically limit the implications of any such rebalancing.
Republicans in the national House of Representatives remain less decisive in their efforts to choose that chamber's next speaker.
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