Philadelphia Democrats went three-for-three Tuesday in seeking state House seats up for grabs in a special election.
Winning those seats were former City Councilman Ed Neilson; Donna Bullock, a former special assistant to City Council President Darrell L. Clarke; and Joanna McClinton, who was chief counsel to State Sen. Anthony H. Williams.
All three seats had been held by Democrats. Two were vacant because of resignations tied to guilty pleas for corruption charges. One was vacant because the officeholder won a seat in the state Senate.
Neilson, Bullock, and McClinton all likely benefited from the Democratic advantage of outnumbering Republicans in their districts.
But they will be in the minority in Harrisburg, where Republicans hold firm control over the House. The Republicans will have 119 members when the new representatives are sworn in Aug. 25. The Democrats will have 84.
Tuesday's winners will complete the remaining 14 months of the terms for the three seats, which will all be on the ballot next year.
Neilson, who previously served in the House and worked for Gov. Ed Rendell's administration, faced the most competitive race in Northeast Philadelphia's 174th District. While Democrats outnumber Republicans by 7-1 citywide, that advantage drops to just 3-1 in the district.
Neilson defeated Republican Tim Dailey, a history teacher at Father Judge High School.
He had experience on his side. Neilson took with good humor the nickname he picked up - "Special Ed" - since this is his third special election in four years.
Neilson won special elections for the House in 2012 and for City Council last year. He lost his bid in the May 19 primary for a full four-year Council term.
He and his new colleagues go to Harrisburg in the middle of an extended battle over the state budget. "It's something I've been through before in Harrisburg," Neilson said Tuesday night. "It's nothing new to me."
The 174th District seat was vacant because John Sabatina Jr. resigned after winning a May 19 special election for the state Senate seat vacated by Mike Stack III when he became lieutenant governor in January.
In North Philadelphia's 195th District, Bullock defeated Republican Adam Lang, a computer network engineer, and Judith Robinson, a real estate broker and community activist who ran a write-in campaign.
Bullock, a lawyer, worked for Community Legal Services before joining Clarke's Council staff. She called herself a "quick learner" Tuesday night when asked about the current budget battle. "I think it's a big responsibility," she said of her victory. "I hope I don't disappoint the voters of the 195th District when I'm out there."
The seat was vacant because Michelle Brownlee, who held the office for four years, resigned June 8 after pleading guilty to public corruption charges. She was sentenced to 18 months on probation.
In the 195th District, Democrats outnumber Republicans by 13-1.
In the 191st District - which includes parts of West and Southwest Philadelphia, along with Yeadon and Darby Borough in Delaware County - McClinton defeated Republican Charles Wilkins Jr. and independent Tracey Gordon.
McClinton, a lawyer, worked for the Defender Association of Philadelphia before joining Williams' Senate staff.
That seat was vacant because eight-term Rep. Ron Waters resigned June 1 after pleading guilty to public corruption charges. He was sentenced to 23 months on probation.
In the 191st District, Democrats outnumber Republicans by 26-1 in the Philadelphia portion and 10-1 in the Delaware County portion.