Pileggi had been the Republican leader of the state senate since 2007. His loss shows growing influence among conservatives in the Republican caucus, moving the GOP leadership position from Philly’s moderate suburbs to more politically conservative Centre County.
His leadership was challenged in a letter from freshman Sen. Scott Wagner, of York County, saying Pileggi should be removed from his position for using his “power to obstruct the legislative process, frustrate the Republican Caucus’ agenda, and prevent Pennsylvania from moving forward.”
“I believe you have compromised yourself by accepting such a substantial amount of money from Local 98,” Wagner wrote. “It has become crystal clear to me that you will not allow any piece of legislation onto the floor for a vote that would in any way be opposed by the public or private sector unions.” Other challenges to Pileggi’s leadership followed.
The GOP holds a 30-20 majority in the next session of the state senate. Those behind the successful challenge to Pileggi’s leadership say they worried about compromise with Wolf. “We don’t want a moderate majority leader who’s going to allow Wolf to get things done that are contrary to the overwhelming majority of our caucus,” an unnamed caucus member told The Patriot News.
The news on the leadership is not good for the Philadelphia area. Philadelphia magazine’s Patrick Kerkstra profiled Pileggi earlier this year; a Democratic operative called him “the competent grown up.” State Sen. Anthony Williams called him “an absolute star for Philly.”
“I’m not one to take a position — which is a very popular position to take — of this constant diet of Philadelphia bashing,” Pileggi told Philadelphia. The new majority leader, Corman, was a chief reason for the delayed implementation of the Philadelphia cigarette tax.
Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, who represents counties in northern Pennsylvania, retained his seat in the election.