Joe Scarnati

Joseph B. Scarnati III (born January 2, 1962) is an American politician from the U.S. State of Pennsylvania. He is a member of the Republican Party and is currently the President pro tempore of the Pennsylvania State Senate. Scarnati is in his fifth term as Senator from the 25th District.

Joe Scarnati
Joe Scarnati.jpg
President pro tempore of the Pennsylvania Senate
Assumed office
January 2, 2007
Preceded byRobert Jubelirer
31st Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania
In office
December 3, 2008 – January 18, 2011
GovernorEd Rendell
Preceded byCatherine Baker Knoll
Succeeded byJim Cawley
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate
from the 25th district
Assumed office
January 2, 2001
Preceded byBill Slocum
Personal details
Born (1962-01-02) January 2, 1962 (age 58)
Brockway, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationPennsylvania State University, DuBois
WebsiteOfficial website

As President Pro Tempore, he assumed the role of Lieutenant Governor upon the death of Catherine Baker Knoll on November 12, 2008.[1] He was sworn in on December 3, 2008.[2] He did not seek election to the post in 2010, and was succeeded as Lieutenant Governor by Jim Cawley.

Early life, education, and early political careerEdit

Scarnati was born and raised in Brockway, Pennsylvania, a borough located in Jefferson County. He graduated from Penn State DuBois with an A.A. in Business Administration in 1982.

Prior to his senate election, Scarnati served on both the Brockway Borough Council (1986–1994) and the Jefferson County Development Council.

Pennsylvania SenateEdit


In 1996, Scarnati first ran for Pennsylvania's 25th senate district when incumbent Republican State Senator John E. Peterson decided to retire in order to run for congress. Scarnati lost the Republican primary to Bill Slocum by 351 votes. Slocum won the primary with a plurality of 32% of the vote in the four candidate field.[3]

In 2000, Slocum was convicted of illegal dumping and resigned.[4] Scarnati ran for the seat as an independent against Slocum, who was attempting a comeback in the special election to replace him. Scarnati won the election with 33% of the vote, defeating Democratic nominee Joseph J. Calla (33%) and Republican nominee Bill Slocum (32%). He edged Calla by just 197 votes. After the election, he switched back to the Republican party.[5][6]

In 2004, Scarnati ran for re-election with no Democratic opposition in his first re-election campaign. He defeated Constitution Party nominee Alan R. Kiser 90%-10%.[7] In 2008, he won re-election to a third term, defeating Democrat Donald L. Hilliard 67%-33%.[8] In 2012, he won re-election to a fourth term unopposed.[9]


In May 2006, Robert Jubelirer and David Brightbill, the Republicans' two top leaders were defeated in the primary election, victims of the legislative pay raise fallout. Scarnati narrowly won the race to replace Jubelirer against veteran lawmakers Stewart Greenleaf and Jeffrey Piccola.[10]

Upon the death of Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll on November 12, 2008, Scarnati assumed the position of Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania. He served as acting Lieutenant Governor until he was sworn into office on Wednesday, December 3, 2008.[11] He did not seek election to the post in 2010, and was succeeded as Lieutenant Governor by Jim Cawley.

Scarnati played a lead role in representing Republicans during Pennsylvania's 2009 budget impasse, and harshly criticized Governor Rendell's leadership style and priorities.[12] He was seen as "the de facto opposition leader to Rendell."[13]


When Chris Abruzzo was nominated to become secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in December 2013, and came under criticism for testifying that he was unaware of evidence that global warming was harmful to the environment, Scarnati defended Abruzzo, saying "We should not be deemed unfit to serve simply because we may not agree entirely with the strongly held view of some in this chamber and elsewhere. As a matter of fact, anyone who has ventured outdoors the past few days may very well have good reason to disagree with that point of view." It had been snowing in Harrisburg, off and on, for the previous two days. Scarnati was criticized by state senator Daylin Leach for equating weather with climate.[14] Abruzzo was confirmed in a 42–8 vote.

Gerrymandering controversyEdit

On January 22, 2018, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, divided along partisan lines, invalidated the state's congressional map, on the grounds that Pennsylvania's Republican-dominated legislature had engaged in partisan gerrymandering that "clearly, plainly and palpably" violated the Pennsylvania Constitution.[15] A week later, Scarnati formally declared his intent not to turn over any data requested by the Court's orders, maintaining a position Republicans petitioned to the U.S. Supreme Court, that the state's constitution delegates the role of congressional districting to the General Assembly.[16] On February 5, 2018, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito rejected the Pennsylvania Republicans' request for a stay and review of the state court's ruling. The top federal court's order was expected by many, as the state supreme court is the highest authority on matters based exclusively on the state constitution.[17]

Committee assignmentsEdit

Ex-Officio Member of all Senate Committees

Personal lifeEdit

Scarnati grew up in an Italian-American family in Brockway, Pennsylvania. He began his political career on the Brockway Borough Council in 1986. He helped run the family's restaurant and became the chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party.[18] Scarnati resides in Warren, Pennsylvania with his wife Amy. They have five children.[19]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Scarnati to be Next Lieutenant Governor". Archived from the original on 2010-11-28. Retrieved 2010-09-04.
  2. ^ "Scarnati Sworn In as Lieutenant Governor". Archived from the original on 2010-11-28. Retrieved 2010-09-04.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Don Hopey, Senator gets jail time for dumping sewage, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5/10/2000
  5. ^ GOP concedes to Gore; Santorum keeps seat, Associated Press, reprinted in USA Today. 11/8/2000
  6. ^ "PA State Senate 25 Race - Nov. 7, 2000". Our Campaigns. August 26, 2003. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  7. ^ "PA State Senate 25 Race - Nov. 2, 2004". Our Campaigns. August 9, 2016. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  8. ^ "PA State Senate 25 Race - Nov. 4, 2008". Our Campaigns. November 14, 2008. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  9. ^ "PA State Senate 25 Race - Nov. 6, 2012". Our Campaigns. August 3, 2016. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  10. ^ Tom Barnes, GOP taps Scarnati as state senate president pro tem, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 11/29/06
  11. ^ Levy, Marc (2008-12-03). "Scarnati sworn in as lieutenant governor". Allentown Morning Call. Retrieved 2008-12-09.
  12. ^ Scarnati tells Gov. Ed Rendell to pay state workers
  13. ^ "PA Report 100" (PDF). Pennsylvania Report. Capital Growth, Inc. January 23, 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 14, 2009. Retrieved September 30, 2009.
  14. ^ Wilson, Mary (December 11, 2013). "DEP pick confirmed in Pa., leaving lawmakers to squabble". WHYY News. Archived from the original on December 12, 2013.
  15. ^ Lai, Jonathan; Navratil, Liz; Couloumbis, Angela (January 22, 2018). "Pa. Supreme Court rules congressional map unconstitutional in gerrymander case, orders change before May primary". The Inquirer. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  16. ^ Lai, Jonathan (January 31, 2018). "Sen. Scarnati refuses Pa. Supreme Court order to turn over map data in gerrymander case". The Inquirer. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  17. ^ Liptak, Adam (February 5, 2018). "Justices Won't Block Pennsylvania Gerrymandering Decision". The New York Times. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  18. ^ Levy, Marc (November 14, 2008). "Sen. Joe Scarnati assumes lieutenant governor's role". Pocono Record. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
  19. ^ "Joe Scarnati III's Biography". Vote Smart. Retrieved January 10, 2020.

External linksEdit

Pennsylvania State Senate
Preceded by
Bill Slocum
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate
from the 25th district

Preceded by
Robert Jubelirer
President pro tempore of the Pennsylvania Senate
Political offices
Preceded by
Catherine Baker Knoll
Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Jim Cawley
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Jim Cawley
as Lieutenant Governor
Pennsylvania gubernatorial line of succession
2nd in line
as President pro tempore of the Senate
Succeeded by
Sam Smith
as Speaker of the House of Representatives