Navy vet flips red Trump suburb to win seat in Pennsylvania Senate


Republicans continue to lose ground in Pennsylvania.

Pam Iovino, a Democrat and a Navy veteran, won a special election in suburban Pennsylvania Tuesday by flipping a district in an area Trump carried in 2016.

The race for a key state Senate seat was fought in the suburbs of Pittsburgh and captured national attention as the "most important race of the cycle thus far," according to PoliticsPA, a leading Pennsylvania political outlet.

D. Raja, a wealthy Republican businessman, conceded just after 9:30 p.m., after unofficial results showed him losing by about 4 points. Raja even had help from the Trump family — Donald Trump Jr. recorded a robocall to rally support for him.

But in the end, Iovino prevailed, running on progressive issues like a $15 minimum wage and with support from local unions.

The loss for Republicans in Pennsylvania should begin to feel normal at this point.

In the 2018 midterms, Democrats gained three more seats in the House of Representatives, held on to a hotly contested U.S. Senate seat, and kept control of the governor's mansion.

Before the results came out, NBC News called the race "the first major bellwether race since the 2018 midterms," and said a victory for Democrats would foreshadow trouble for Trump in 2020, who narrowly carried Pennsylvania in 2016.

Pennsylvania is used to playing the role of bellwether. In the spring of 2018, Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) won a special election for a U.S. House of Representatives seat deep in the heart of Trump country. At the time, Republicans tried to brush off the importance of the victory, while Democrats said it foreshadowed enthusiasm for that fall's midterm elections.

In the end, Republicans were wrong, as Democrats won historic victories across the country in November 2018 and regained control of the House for the first time in almost a decade.

Iovino's win may be a national bellwether, but it is also a key victory for Democrats in Pennsylvania. Her win cuts the advantage Republicans hold in the state senate to a slim 26-22 advantage. In 2020, half the the state's Senate seats will be up for grabs, and Democrats only need to flip three to gain control of the chamber.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.