Pennsylvania Democratic Congressional Candidate Won’t Commit to Vote for a Democratic Speaker

“I’m not going to make any promises.”

Clint Hendler

One of the presumed front runners for the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania’s vacant 18th district has told Mother Jones that she will not commit to vote for a Democratic Speaker of the House.

“I put politics aside, and people first,” said Gina Cerilli, the chair of Westmoreland County’s board of commissioners. “Until I’m there and I’m with my colleagues, I’m not going to make any promises.”

“I’m not going to give a complete answer,” she added. 

Cerilli, who entered the race promising to be a “moderate Democrat” who would be “pro-life, pro-sportsman, and pro-union” has drawn criticism from progressive activists in the district, some of whom have threatened not to aid her campaign if she emerges the nominee.

In the past, some conservative Democrats have sought to distance themselves from party leadership by threatening to vote for a Republican speaker. If Cerilli was elected and refused to vote for Democratic leadership in a closely divided Congress, it could keep the body in Republican hands and deny liberals a bulwark against Trump’s legislative agenda.

With voting under an hour away, more than 450 delegates mostly local precinct level party officials, had gathered in a school gymnasium for the special convention to pick a nominee for a seat vacated by Republican Congressman Tim Murphy, who resigned after it emerged that he had urged his mistress to seek an abortion. The delegates will choose among seven candidates in successive rounds of secret ballots.