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Legislators Prepare to Elect (New?) Caucus Leaders

The state House and Senate could return to session next year with new faces leading the Republican majority and Democratic minority caucuses. Leadership elections scheduled Wednesday could change the direction of each chamber for the next two-year session.

The marquee contest is in the Senate, where the relatively moderate Republican Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi from Chester County is facing his first challenge in eight years from Centre County Sen. Jake Corman. Tussles over other top leadership posts are coming from a slate of senators allied with Corman who also say it's time for a change. Conservatives have voiced displeasure with Pileggi's leadership style for months, but other members say the clash is rooted in personality disputes among top Republicans. A Senate staffer said there is usually very little debate before elections, and that the entire process should finish within an hour.

In the House, two Republicans, Rep. Dave Reed (Indiana) and Rep. Stan Saylor (York) are vying for the role of majority leader as Allegheny County's Mike Turzai aims to fill retiring Rep. Sam Smith's position as House speaker. The House GOP picked up 18 seats in last week's elections. Democratic Rep. Mike Sturla (Lancaster) and Rep. Matthew Bradford (Montgomery) are using those losses to mount challenges to the high-ranking members of their minority caucus (minority leader and whip, respectively).

Senate Democrats, though they also hemorrhaged seats in the recent election, aren't expecting any challenges to the minority leadership slot held by Sen. Jay Costa (Allegheny).