A Big Law attorney and a partner from a Pennsylvania litigation defense firm are among those whose victories marked a strong showing for attorneys—many of them women—who were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in Tuesday’s midterm election.
Out of 18 contested congressional seats, Pennsylvania voters elected seven attorneys to represent them in Washington. Two of the most closely watched races ended up favoring attorneys, with the head of Ballard Spahr’s pro bono efforts being elected in one race and a partner from a Lehigh Valley firm, Gross McGinley, winning a seat in the other.
Pennsylvania’s 5th District, which includes Delaware County and parts of Philadelphia, Montgomery and Chester counties, was one of the most closely watched congressional races in the highly contested midterms elections Tuesday. The race featured two lawyers: Pearl Kim, a career prosecutor, and Mary Gay Scanlon, who is the chairwoman of Ballard Spahr’s pro bono committee.
The district had previously been held by a Republican before the state Supreme Court re-drew the state’s congressional map earlier this year in its own highly contentious and closely watched process.
Scanlon, a Democrat, ended up handily winning the district, with 65 percent of the vote, over Kim’s nearly 34 percent, according to The Associated Press.
In a statement that Ballard released Wednesday morning, Scanlon credited her work heading the firm’s pro bono committee over the past 15 years, which, the statement said, provided legal representation to immigrants seeking asylum, people fighting civil rights violations, veterans and small business.
“What I saw during those years informed my decision to run for Congress and bring change on a wider scale,” Scanlon said in the statement. “I am grateful to everyone who supported me through this journey and excited for the opportunity to serve.”
In an interview Wednesday afternoon, Scanlon also credited the Philadelphia legal community, in particular her work with public interest lawyers, attorneys at law schools and other Big Law lawyers, as playing a big role in her successes during the campaign.
“You add all those things together, and you end up with a network of people across the country,” she said. “That was really, really helpful finding people who could help win a campaign, and get a sense of what I needed to know.”
Ballard, she said, will be implementing a succession plan to transition the pro bono committee to a new leader, adding that there is a lot of interest in the position.
The 7th District, which includes Lehigh, Northampton and some of Monroe counties, was another closely contested race. Most of the area had been represented by Republican Charlie Dent, who retired in May.
On Tuesday, Marty Nothstein, a gold-medal-winning former Olympic cyclist, faced off against former Allentown City Solicitor Susan Ellis Wild, who is now a partner at Gross McGinley.
Wild, who focuses her practice on insurance defense and medical malpractice litigation, won a full term in the newly created 7th District, capturing more than 53 percent of the vote, according to the AP.
Both Scanlon and Wild also ran in special elections to fill seats that were recently vacated. Those brief terms begin next week and are set to end at the end of the year. While Scanlon won the special election she was involved in, as of Wednesday afternoon, no clear winner had emerged Wild’s special election.
The difference will mean closing her practice within a week, or having about six weeks to wind things down. Either way, Wild said she is ready to head to Washington.
“It won’t be a terribly difficult transition,” she said. “For the past year my colleagues have taken over many of my cases.”
Wild said she hopes to spend the first few weeks in office getting to know her fellow legislators, before turning to issues like campaign finance reform, health care and infrastructure.
Along with thanking her supporters, she said a lot of her success stemmed from her colleagues taking on much of her practice and allowing her to campaign.
“They have been minding the store, so to speak,” she said. “They really got things done, and resolved things, and really took care of my clients.”
Incumbent Brian Fitzpatrick also retained his seat in the 1st District, winning 51 percent of the vote over the nearly 49 percent that challenger Scott Wallace received. Fitzpatrick is a graduate of Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law, and, before becoming a congressman in 2016, he worked as a special assistant U.S. attorney, focusing on drug crimes.
In the 8th District, incumbent Matt Cartwright won 54 percent of the vote, beating challenger John Chrin. Before being elected to Congress in 2013, Cartwright spent 25 years at the Scranton-based personal injury firm Munley Law, which had been called Munley, Munley & Cartwright while he was there.
Tom Marino, who served as the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania from 2002 until 2007, beat Marc Friedenberg in the contest to represent the 12th District. Marino previously served as Lycoming County’s district attorney for a decade. He was also an incumbent, being first elected to represent the district in 2010.
In the 14th District attorney Guy Reschenthaler beat Bibiana Boerio with 58 percent of the vote, according to the AP. Before being elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 2015, Reschenthaler had been a naval lawyer and judge.
Conor Lamb, who previously worked as a federal prosecutor in the Western District of Pennsylvania, also won a full term to represent the 17th District. Lamb had narrowly won a closely watched special election for the seat earlier this year. On Tuesday, he beat Keith Rothfus by winning more than 56 percent of the vote, according to the AP.