House Speaker Mike Turzai will return to the General Assembly next year after defeating political newcomer Emily Skopov, who mounted the most serious challenge the Republican has seen since he was elected in 2001.
Turzai beat the former Hollywood screenwriter by nine points, according to unofficial results with all precincts reporting. The Marshall Republican will continue to represent District 28, which includes Bradford Woods, Franklin Park, McCandless Township, and Pine Township.
Skopov announced her candidacy last year as an outsider who would focus on solutions, not party. The Democrat painted Turzai as an obstructionist leader who refused to throw his weight behind bills with bipartisan support like legislation that would extend discrimination protections to LGBTQ people. In September, Skopov claimed Turzai was responsible for holding up the vote on a domestic violence bill, a charge he vehemently denied.
At their one and only debate, Turzai accused Skopov of running the “most negative, irresponsible campaign I have ever seen.” In turn, Skopov told Turzai “you have to accept blame and responsibility for the tone you set.”
Turzai was elected House speaker in 2015 after serving as leader of the chamber for a few years. He’s one of the most consistently conservative voices in the General Assembly on issues like abortion, gun rights, and taxes.
Skopov took a more progressive view on several issues, like abortion access (she’s in favor) and gun control (she wants to ban assault weapons). Democrats were hopeful she could take advantage of a changing electorate in the Pittsburgh suburbs that supported moderate Conor Lamb over conservative Rick Saccone in a special congressional election.
But in the end, Turzai was able to hold on to his seat.