Pennsylvania lawmakers select first female leaders in House, Senate


Come December, women will lead the Pennsylvania Senate’s Republican majority and the Pennsylvania House's Democratic minority – both firsts in the state's history.

Sen. Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, said Thursday she was “honored” to be elected as Senate majority leader. She will replace Jake Corman, R-Centre, who was nominated to become president pro tempore after Jefferson County Republican Joe Scarnati retires later this year.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Ward told reporters Thursday. “We have a budget. We have to make sure the people of Pennsylvania are represented.”

“Im honored to have been chosen today and as Senator Corman said, I am a woman and a senator,” she added.

Meanwhile, House Democrats selected Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Philadelphia, as their leader, succeeding Rep. Frank Dermody, who was not reelected by voters. McClinton is the first Black woman to serve as the House minority leader.

Ward, a board certified respiratory therapist who was first elected in 2008, served as majority caucus administrator and as the first female chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. Prior to her election to the General Assembly, she served as a Westmoreland County commissioner and a Hempfield Township supervisor, the latter of which she chaired for three years before leaving.

“We are at a pivotal point in Pennsylvania history, in which a public health crisis and the economic fallout have created widespread uncertainty about our future,” Ward later said in a statement. “Senate Republicans are committed to easing that anxiety and showing the path forward, and I am eager to help lead that effort.”

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