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Women's Wave Is On in Pennsylvania: Four Women Projected Winners in First-Time Bids for Congress

Mary Gay Scanlon was the first woman to win, but was quickly joined by the rest of the "Fab Four," as they call themselves.

What to Know

  • Many Pennsylvanians voted in new districts after the state supreme court redrew the congressional map this spring.
  • A historic number of women ran for Pennsylvania's open seats. In Southeast Pennsylvania, 4 women were elected.
  • Women also won re-election to Congress in New Jersey and Delaware.

Mary Gay Scanlon, a civil rights attorney in Philadelphia, was the first. But she was certainly not the last Tuesday night: four women are now projected winners of Congressional seats in Pennsylvania.

Scanlon was officially the first woman elected to Congress from Pennsylvania in three years, winning Pennsylvania's 5th District seat in suburban Philadelphia. That's a new seat, created by redistricting.

But she was quickly joined by the rest of the "Fab Four," as they call themselves.

Former State Rep. Madeleine Dean, who was elected in Pennsylvania's 4th Congressional District, said she is "a little overwhelmed" but "utterly thrilled" by the love and support from family, friends and supporters.

She said she visited about 25 polling sites Tuesday. "This just felt like a truly American day in all the senses," she said. 

Air Force veteran and former business executive Chrissy Houlahan, Allentown’s former solicitor Susan Wild and Dean joined Scanlon a short time later when NBC News projected all of them winners against Republican challengers in the Philadelphia suburbs.

Getty Images
Four first-time women candidates who won seats in Congress to represent Pennsylvania district in the Philadelphia suburbs: (left to right) Mary Gay Scanlon, Madeleine Dean, Chrissy Houlahan and Susan Wild. They are calling themselves the "Fab Four."

The wave swept farther than just Pennsylvania. In Delaware, Lisa Blunt Rochester was re-elected to the state's lone House seat.

And Democratic incumbent Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman beat Republican Daryl Kipnis in New Jersey's 12th district, which includes Princeton. Add Coleman to the wave of women elected or re-elected from Philadelphia's suburbs on Tuesday.

Voters in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware filled a combined 31 seats for the three states by the end of the night, with only one race remaining uncalled because the vote tally was so close.

A historic number of women were on Pennsylvania ballots as one of the two major party candidates in seven of the 18 races.

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