Democrat Heather Boyd wins special election, securing Demoratic Pa. House majority

[*This story was updated at 12:26 a.m., May 16, 2023, to reflect updated unofficial vote tallies]

Democrat Heather Boyd won the special election to replace former state Rep. Mike Zabel, D-Delaware, preserving the Democratic one-vote majority in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Boyd, a former congressional staffer from Upper Darby Township, received about 60% of the vote in the election, according to unofficial tallies. The contest coincided with the municipal election primary election on Tuesday. 

Her Republican opponent, Katie Ford, who ran on a moderate conservative platform, received about 40% of the vote with about 1% of ballots cast for Libertarian candidate Alfe Goodwin, unofficial tallies showed.

Boyd arrived at a post-election party at Casey’s Saloon and Restaurant in Drexel Hill to raucous cheers and chants, and thanked her supporters and family for their efforts during the eight-week campaign.

Democrat Heather Boyd has claimed victory in the 163rd Pa. House District special election.

— Peter Hall (@PeteHallPA) May 17, 2023

A number of Democratic House leaders including Majority Leader Matt Bradford, of Montgomery County, and Appropriations Committee Chairperson Jordan Harris, of Philadelphia, were in attendance.

“This election has been about all of you in this room and countless others who aren’t here today who cared enough and believed enough and worked hard enough to make the difference,” Boyd said.

Ford declined to comment in a text message.

Gov. Josh Shapiro congratulated Boyd in a tweet and said he looked forward to working with her as Delaware County’s newest state representative.

“Together, we’ll work to get things done for Pennsylvanians and protect real freedom,” Shapiro tweeted. “And to Delco: Thank you for showing up to defend our rights and the Democratic House majority.”

Heather Boyd is a teacher, mom, and public servant —now, she’s Delaware County’s newest state rep.

Together, we’ll work to get things done for Pennsylvanians and protect real freedom.

And to Delco: Thank you for showing up to defend our rights and the Democratic House majority.

— Josh Shapiro (@JoshShapiroPA) May 17, 2023

Former U.S. attorney general and National Democratic Redistricting Committee Chairperson Eric Holder said in a statement that Boyd’s election would ensure the rights and freedoms of her constituents are protected. He attributed the Democratic House majority her victory secured to the most recent redrawing of Pennsylvania’s legislative districts.

“For the previous decade, gerrymandered maps allowed Republicans to maintain an unbreakable, unfair grip on the Pennsylvania General Assembly. These new maps are a win for democracy and the people of Pennsylvania,” Holder said.

In another special election for Republican state Sen. Lynda Schlegel Culver’s former 108th House District seat in Northumberland and Montour counties, Republican Michael Stender defeated Democrat Trevor Finn in a similarly lopsided election with nearly 72% of the vote, according to unofficial tallies.

Boyd received more than $1 million in support from the House Democratic Campaign Committee that paid for campaign ads critical of Ford’s positions on abortion and her suitability for state office in light of her history of bankruptcies. 

Ford responded in ads where she told voters that her financial troubles were the result of her decision to seek treatment for her son, who has autism. 

Ford also said in a televised debate that she would not support a proposed constitutional amendment declaring there is no constitutional right to abortion, or state funding for the procedure, that the Republican- controlled General Assembly approved last year. 

Under the state constitution, an amendment must pass both chambers in successive sessions before going to voters. 

Boyd attributed her victory to the work of volunteers who knocked on tens of thousands of doors in the district to get out the word about the election. 

“You rolled up your sleeves, you got to work and you let the 163rd be heard,” Boyd said. 

Democratic leaders said the district would be a safe Democratic seat in a General Election with presidential or gubernatorial candidates on the ballot. But in a primary election dominated by partisan super voters, a Democratic victory was not certain.

Boyd said she felt the weight of the consequences of the election but tried not to make it the focus of her campaign.

“I tried not to focus on it because ultimately this is about my district. … The majority is its own challenge. And that’s somebody else’s issue,” Boyd said. “For me, it was focusing on the voters. It’s my community. It’s where I feel the strongest.”


Originally published at,by Peter Hall

Comments are closed.