A hotly contested state Senate special election in Pennsylvania may shed some light into what lies ahead for the upcoming presidential election, Salon reports. Democrat Pam Iovino managed to flip a previously-Republican seat by defeating her opponent D. Raja, who openly professed his support for President Donald Trump throughout the election. Pennsylvania, a perennial “swing state” which has been seen to break towards either Democrats or Republicans depending on the election, is often analyzed as a bellwether for the political leanings of the nation at large. It was among several states that surprised pundits in 2016 by voting largely for Trump in the general election.
The race between Iovino and Raja has been viewed generally as a referendum on Trump himself and the Republican Party at large because of the two candidates’ sharp ideological differences as well as their respective opinions on the current president.
Iovino is a United Staes Navy veteran who held a senior position at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Raja was an IT executive and Trump fan. The two were competing in a race to fill a vacancy left by Republican Guy Reschenthaler after Reschenthaler moved on to the U.S. Congress. The seat has been controlled almost exclusively by Republicans for 50 years.
The Pennsylvania Democratic Party took note of the implications of Iovino’s victory, posting from their official Twitter account to congratulate the Senator-elect.
“SEAT. FLIPPED.” the tweet read in part, also pointing out that Pennsylvania Democrats have now won all three of their special election contests so far in 2019. The tweet included a photo of Iovino with a graphic overlay that switches triumphantly from red to blue.
Iovino echoed the sentiment in her remarks after the election, saying to supporters, “Congratulations on what you just accomplished. SD37 is blue again, and you did that.”
She went on to express her commitment to continuing to work for her new constituency just as they had worked for her to make the election victory possible.
“I will work tirelessly for you,” she said, “as hard as all of you worked to make this happen.”
According to reports, Raja actually conceded victory before one precinct, Peters Township, had even started tallying votes. Republican poll watchers had evidently determined that the election was a lost cause based on their observations at precincts throughout the district.
— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (@PittsburghPG) April 3, 2019
Adding to the potentially heady implications of her victory. Iovino’s win also means that for the first time, Pennsylvania’s Washington County will be represented in the state senate by two women.