GOP's Martina White wins 170th House District

Martina White became the city's second Republican member in the state House on Tuesday night, with a commanding win in a special election for Northeast Philadelphia's 170th District.

Her victory - by a margin of 14 percent with 97 percent of the vote tallied Tuesday night - prompted Republican celebrations and Democratic recriminations. White defeated Democrat Sarah Del Ricci, who was handpicked for the special election by Lt. Gov. Mike Stack III.

Martina White

White credited the win - the first pickup by the Republicans of an open General Assembly seat in Philadelphia in 25 years - to the hard work of volunteers, including several unions that endorsed her.

"It's an honor to have the level of support we've had," White said. "I know it's a major upset for my opponent and probably the lieutenant governor as well."

U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, who left the 170th District seat in January to take a seat in the U.S. House, issued a statement congratulating White, saying she "clearly was the harder-working candidate."

Boyle and his brother, State Rep. Kevin Boyle, wanted an aide, Seth Kaplan, selected as the Democratic candidate. Stack, a ward leader in the district, pushed for Del Ricci.

"This could have remained a Democratic seat," Boyle said, lamenting that some Democratic ward leaders relying on "personal relationships" to pick a candidate while excluding the views of labor leaders

Del Ricci, 34, lives in Parkwood Manor and founded the Parkwood Therapeutic Riding Center. Her husband, John, is a longtime friend and political ally of Stack's.

White, 26, lives in Somerton and is a financial adviser for Independence Wealth Strategies in Marlton, N.J.

She joins State Rep. John Taylor, the city's Republican chairman, who also represents a district in Northeast Philly, as the city's second GOP member of the General Assembly.

The 170th District has 36,185 registered voters. Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1, a smaller margin of advantage than the 7-1 registration Democrats hold citywide.

Tuesday's race was never expected to have much impact on the control of the state House. Republicans held a strong majority with 119 members. Democrats hold 83 seats.

House Speaker Mike Turzai had the power to call the special election. On Jan. 6 he chose Tuesday for the election, even though the May 19 primary election is just 56 days away.

The state picks up the cost for a special election. The cost for Tuesday's election has not yet been calculated. The state reimbursed the city for $168,558 in costs to hold a special election for a state house seat in 2011.




(98% of the vote)

Sarah Del Ricci (D) . . . 2,681

Martina White (R) . . . 3,506

D-Democratic; R-Republican

215-854-5973 @byChrisBrennan