McClinton Aims To ‘Play Less Defense’ In Her First Term As PA House Minority Leader

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HARRISBURG, PA (WSKG) — Pennsylvania House Democrats are officially under new management.

State Rep. Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia and Delaware counties) began her role this week as leader of the minority party, and she said her constituents have been flooding her office with well-wishes and congratulations.

Rep. Joanna McClinton (D, Delaware County) gives remarks on the floor of the Pennsylvania House. Courtesy of Wesley Anderson

“Some have sent cards and flowers. They’re very excited for their very own state rep to be elevated in this session that’s coming up,” McClinton said.

McClinton has been a House lawmaker since 2015. As the Democrats’ leader, she’ll be responsible for putting together Democrats’ legislative strategy for next year’s session, and meeting and negotiating with Republican leaders.

The previous minority leader, Frank Dermody of Allegheny County, lost re-election last month.

McClinton said bipartisan cooperation will be important as Pennsylvania reels from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Transportation funding and pandemic recovery will be among her party’s priorities. Lawmakers on the Democratic side specifically want to give restaurants and bars more access to zero-interest loans.

“We’ve got to figure out ‘Where can we create solutions for those everyday problems that are not partisan?’” McClinton said. “They are not Republican, they are not Democrat, but they are human problems that people are facing in every district across the state right now.”

House Democrats have played defense on bills in recent years, as they haven’t held the speaker’s gavel in that chamber since 2010. Even so, McClinton said now is a perfect time to shift that paradigm.

“I refuse to believe there are 203 leaders in the House of Representatives and we cannot find top priorities that we see eye to eye on.”

McClinton says House Republican leaders intend to meet with her in the coming days.

While she’s prepared to discuss things like PennDOT funding, McClinton said she won’t entertain election-related “conspiracy theories” spread by some GOP members.

She’ll be joined on the Democratic leadership team by lawmakers like Rep. Jordan Harris (D-Philadelphia County), who will serve another term as party whip and Rep. Dan Miller (D-Allegheny County), who’s taking over for McClinton as caucus chair.