House Reps: Run For One Office At A Time

Rep. Russ Diamond, R-Jonestown, is pictured speaking during a committee meeting.

Several state House of Representatives members are backing proposals to make those running for office choose to run for one position at a time.

Two co-sponsorship memorandums have been floated in recent weeks prompted by numerous special elections to fill vacant state Legislature seats — and the uncertainty those elections have raised over control of the legislature. Legislators running for statewide office and re-election to the legislature resulted in vacancies that had to be filled with special elections. In a tightly divided house that meant months of gridlock as Republicans and Democrats both claimed control of the House of Representatives.

One of the memorandums was submitted by Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Temple, with support from Reps. Mark Gillen, R-Reading, and Maureen Madden, D-Tobyhanna. Rozzi emerged as the temporary Speaker of the House amid some of the aforementioned confusion earlier this year. Democrats won 102 seats in November to Republicans’ 101, but one reelected Democrat died in October and two others resigned in December because they also won higher offices. Republicans were not able to muster enough votes to elect their own speaker when the new session began Jan. 3, leading to Rozzi’s emergence as an alternative.

Rozzi’s tenure as speaker ended when Democrats won three vacant Pittsburgh-area seats to secure their majority in the House.

“This year, numerous special elections have been held to fill vacant seats in the state legislature,” Rozzi wrote in his legislative co-sponsorship memorandum. “Often, these vacancies occur because legislators have run for more than one office at the same time. As we have all seen, these frequent special elections cause chaos in the operation of our state government and cost taxpayers. It is time for us to reform this system to ensure public officials do not cause disorder after being elected to more than one office.That is why I am introducing legislation to provide that a candidate may only run for one office in an election, ensuring their name appears on the ballot just once. This legislation will include an exception for candidates running for the office of the President or Vice President.”

AP file photo Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Mark Rozzi is photographed at the speaker’s podium in January at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa.

A similar proposal is backed by Rep. Russ Diamond, R-Jonestown. Diamond noted in his co-sponsorship memorandum that he has run for more than one public office at the same time twice — once during the 2004 general election and again in the 2022 primary election.

“While assuming the role of candidate, there seemed to be nothing wrong with the practice,” Diamond wrote. “I was wrong about that. As witnessed earlier this year, a successful run for two different offices can not only leave certain constituencies without representation, but can also contribute to chaos in governance.”

Diamond wants candidates to affirm they have not submitted paperwork to file for ballot access for another public office when they submit their petitions. Individuals would still be allowed to seek party and public support for multiple offices, but only be allowed to file one set of nomination petitions before the filing deadline. Diamond’s bill hasn’t yet been filed, but the memorandum states it will allow people to seek state or county party offices at the same time.


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