Capitol Beat

Snowy Special Election: What to watch for in the 140th House District race

Voters in Bucks County head to the polls on a snowy special election day that could impact the state House majority

House District 140

House District 140 Screenshot (Pennsylvania House of Representatives website)

Special elections are commonplace in the state legislature. But this year – given Democrats’ razor-thin majority in the state House – each open seat and special election takes on added significance. 

After Democratic state Rep. John Galloway resigned his state House seat to take office as a district judge, House Speaker Joanna McClinton scheduled a special election for Feb. 13 to fill the now-vacant seat.

As voters go to the polls and await the final result, City & State has a primer on the 140th House district, including who’s vying for the seat and what the election could mean for the balance of the General Assembly. 

The district

The 140th House District, which Galloway represented from 2007 to 2023, covers a portion of Bucks County that includes Falls Township, Morrisville and Tullytown boroughs, as well as part of Middletown Township. 

According to state House archives, the seat has been represented by a Democrat since at least 1969, when state Rep. Milton Berkes, a longtime chair of the Bucks County Democratic Committee, held the seat.

The candidates 

Democrat Jim Prokopiak is facing off against Republican Candace Cabanas. 

Prokopiak is a member of the Pennsbury School Board, and previously served as a Falls Township supervisor from 2002 to 2009. He also serves on the Bucks County Redevelopment Authority, where he has been a member since 2022, according to his campaign website. Prokopiak has stated that housing, the cost of living, funding public schools and abortion rights are four of his major priorities if elected to the General Assembly, and he has pledged to “work with our Democratic majority to make real change in people’s lives.”

Cabanas, a Falls Township resident and restaurant server, is seeking to become the first Republican to hold the seat in several decades. According to her campaign website, she has largely focused on local issues, such as supporting working-class families and first responders, making health care more affordable, and “securing our community’s rightful share of education funding.”

Democrats have looked to tie Cabanas to former President Donald Trump throughout the campaign. According to Facebook’s Ad Library, Prokopiak has run an online ad calling Cabanas a “MAGA extremist,” accusing her of knocking on doors for Trump. In a primer released ahead of the special election for the 140 House District seat, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee also suggested that Cabanas would support policies linked to Trump. 

“The Democratic candidate Jim Prokopiak is fighting for better schools, reproductive freedom, and an economy that works for all,” the primer reads. “The Republican candidate Candace Cabanas will be an extension of MAGA Republicans.”

Cabanas has pushed back against efforts to link her to Trump, telling The Washington Post her husband knocked on doors for Trump, but she didn’t.

She told the Post that Trump is “going to be the nominee and as the nominee, I believe it’s the job of us within the party to get behind and support him, to maybe encourage him to find a really good (vice president) that can help balance him out a little bit.”

The stakes

With Democrats holding a narrow, one-vote advantage over Republicans in the chamber this legislative season, there have been a number of 101-101 deadlocks due to the resignations of several members. 

Republican state Rep. Joe Adams, who previously said he would not seek reelection, officially resigned from his post representing the 139th legislative district, which includes parts of Pike and Wayne counties, Friday morning. 

The House was briefly split at 101-101 late last year when Democrat Sara Innamorato resigned to focus on the general election for Allegheny County executive, and once again after Galloway’s resignation, which took place in December as he prepared to take over as a district judge. 

Democrats hold a 101-100 majority following Adams’ resignation. A win for Prokopiak in Tuesday’s special election, one in which Democrats expect to hold onto Galloway’s seat, would give Democrats a 102-100 advantage over Republicans heading into the budget season and ahead of the April primary election, when McClinton scheduled the 139th district special election. 

On a broader level, the race in Bucks County will give national politicos a glimpse of the current state of a prototypical purple district. A suburban area in the southeast part of the state that’s often considered a barometer of where the state is trending, this local race could be seen as an early indication of where voters are leaning at the beginning of a crucial election year.