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Mary Gay Scanlon (born August 30, 1959) is an American attorney and politician. She is a member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Pennsylvania's 5th congressional district, since being sworn into office on January 3, 2019. She was sworn in as the member representing Pennsylvania's 7th congressional district on November 13, 2018. She was elected to both positions on November 6, 2018, in a special election to fill the vacancy in the 7th district created by the resignation of Representative Pat Meehan and in the regular election to a two-year term of a member for the 5th district. She is a member of the Democratic Party.

Mary Gay Scanlon
Mary Gay Scanlon, official portrait, 2018.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 5th district
Assumed office
November 13, 2018
Preceded byPat Meehan (7th district)
Glenn Thompson (5th district)
Succeeded bySusan Wild (7th district)
Constituency7th district (2018–2019)
5th district (2019–present)
Vice Chair of the House Judiciary Committee
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
Preceded byOffice Established
Member of the
Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board
In office
December 2007 (2007-12) – December 2015 (2015-12)
Personal details
Born (1959-08-30) August 30, 1959 (age 60)
Watertown, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Mark Stewart
EducationColgate University (BA)
University of Pennsylvania (JD)
WebsiteHouse website

Early life and educationEdit

Scanlon was born in Syracuse, New York but was raised from age 6 in Watertown, New York.[1] She is the daughter of Daniel J. Scanlon Jr. and Carol Florence Yehle, and has two sisters, Elizabeth Maura Scanlon and M. Kathleen Scanlon. Her father was an attorney and was appointed part-time magistrate in 1971 and full-time magistrate in 1993.[2] Her maternal grandfather, Leo J. Yehle, was a family-court judge who helped write the first juvenile justice code in New York in the 1960s.[3]

Scanlon earned her bachelor's degree from Colgate University in 1980 and her Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania in 1984. Upon completing her education she became a judicial clerk for the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.[4]

Legal careerEdit

In 1985, Scanlon represented a sexually abused 11-year-old girl in a dependency case. This experience made Scanlon decide to pursue a career in public interest law. In 1994, she received the Fidelity Award, the highest award for public service from the Philadelphia Bar Association.[3]

Scanlon served as an attorney with the Education Law Center of Philadelphia, helping implement special education laws, before joining Ballard Spahr as pro bono counsel. There she helped coordinate the provision of free legal services to low income recipients. She partnered with the Wills for Heroes Foundation, providing legal documents free of charge to first responders. She helped a young woman from Guinea who had sickle-cell disease obtain permanent residency.[3]

In 2006, she was appointed vice chair of the Tax Commission.[4] The following year, she joined the board of the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District[1] and served as its President from 2009 to 2011.[4][5] She continued as a member of the board until 2015.[1]

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit


2018 general electionEdit

On February 25, 2018, Scanlon launched her campaign for US Congress in Pennsylvania's 5th District in the 2018 election. The district had previously been the 7th, represented by four-term Republican Pat Meehan, who had announced a month earlier that he was not running for reelection. She kicked off the campaign by giving a speech at Swarthmore Rutledge School. The seat was created by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which ruled that the previous map had been an unconstitutional partisan Republican gerrymander. The redrawn 5th covers all of Delaware County, a sliver of Montgomery County, and the southwestern corner of Philadelphia.[6] Scanlon said that her interest in running was also piqued by the fact that Pennsylvania had no women in its congressional delegation.[7] She was endorsed by former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell and the Philadelphia Inquirer.[5]

On May 15, Scanlon won the 10-person primary with 16,831 votes, or a 28.4% share of the votes cast. Her closest competitor was Ashley Lunkenheimer, who received 9,060 votes or a 15.3% share.[8] "Tonight we can revel in this moment," Scanlon said in her acceptance of the Democratic nomination. "You all here have once again rewritten history in Delaware County. Tonight, we made it possible for this new district for the first time to be represented by a Democrat in Congress and to be represented by a women in Congress."[9] The new 5th district is more compact and Democratic than its predecessor; had it existed in 2016, Hillary Clinton would have won it with 63% of the vote, which would have been her third-best performance in the state and her strongest outside of the Philadelphia-based districts.[10] By comparison, Clinton won the old 7th with 49% of the vote.[11]

2018 special electionEdit

Meehan resigned from the House on April 27, 2018. Scanlon was named the Democratic candidate in a special election to succeed him.[12] As a result, she ran in two elections on November 6, a special election for the balance of Meehan's term in the old 7th and a regular election for a full two-year term in the new 5th. Her Republican opponent was prosecutor Pearl Kim.

Election resultsEdit

On November 6, Scanlon easily defeated Kim in both the special and regular elections.[13] The margin was slightly closer in the special election for the 7th since it took place under the old lines that had been thrown out by the state supreme court earlier in the year.

She was sworn into her 7th district seat on November 13, 2018,[14] in a ceremony attended by Hawa Salih, a Sudanese human rights activist whom Scanlon helped gain asylum in the U.S. She was one of four Democratic women elected to Congress from Pennsylvania in 2018. The others were Madeleine Dean, Chrissy Houlahan and Susan Wild. The state's congressional delegation had previously been all male.[15]

Scanlon with her family being sworn in by Speaker Nancy Pelosi

With her swearing-in, Scanlon became only the third Democrat to represent this Delaware County-based district since 1939. She transferred to the 5th District in January 2019, with two months more seniority than the other freshmen elected in 2018.


Committee assignmentsEdit


Electoral HistoryEdit

Democratic primary results
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mary Gay Scanlon 16,804 28.4
Democratic Ashley Lunkenheimer 9,044 15.3
Democratic Richard Lazer 8,892 15.0
Democratic Molly Sheehan 6,099 10.3
Democratic Greg Vitali 5,558 9.4
Democratic Lindy Li 4,126 7.0
Democratic Theresa Wright 3,046 5.2
Democratic Thaddeus Kirkland 2,327 3.9
Democratic Margo L. Davidson 2,275 3.9
Democratic Larry Arata 913 1.5
Total votes 59,084 100.0
Pennsylvania's 5th congressional district, 2018
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mary Gay Scanlon 198,639 65.2
Republican Pearl Kim 106,075 34.8
Total votes 304,714 100.0
Democratic gain from Republican
Pennsylvania's 7th congressional district, 2018 (special)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Mary Gay Scanlon 173,268 52.27% +11.47%
Republican Pearl Kim 152,503 46.01% -13.46%
Libertarian Sandra Teresa Salas 3,177 0.96% N/A
Green Brianna Johnston 2,511 0.76% N/A
Total votes 331,459 100.0% N/A
Democratic gain from Republican

Political positionsEdit

According to the Delaware County Daily Times, Scanlon's policy interests "include the need for fair elections; challenges to free speech; access to health care and public education; human rights for the victims of economic and political oppression; gun control; and threats to the environment."[7] She is in favor of universal pre-K and supports marijuana decriminalization. In order to reduce the federal deficit, Scanlon wants to roll back Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. On the subject of a $15 minimum wage, she says she likes it "as a goal, but I do think we need to be careful and probably stage it."[5]

Personal lifeEdit

Scanlon lives in Swarthmore with her husband, Mark Stewart. They have three grown children.[17]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Watertown native runs for congress in Pennsylvania". Watertown Daily Times. May 1, 2018. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  2. ^ "Daniel Scanlon Jr., 69". Syracuse Post-Standard. July 20, 1998. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Sacharow, Fredda (2009). "Scanlon Finds Her Calling in the Family Business: Public Interest". Penn Law Journal. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "Mary Gay Scanlon Pro Bono Counsel". Ballard Spahr LLP. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c Otterbein, Holly (May 9, 2018). "Meet Mary Gay Scanlon, the education advocate and Ballard lawyer running for Congress". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  6. ^ Rose, Alex (November 15, 2018). "Scanlon takes helm of 7th District in Congress". Daily Times. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
  7. ^ a b Sheehan, Neil (February 25, 2018). "Former Wallingford-Swarthmore school board president launches bid for Congress in the 5th". Delaware County Daily Times. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  8. ^ "Pennsylvania Primary Election Results". New York Times. May 17, 2018. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  9. ^ Carey, Kathleen (May 16, 2018). "Scanlon wins Dem contest in race for 5th District U.S. Congress seat". Delaware County Daily Times. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  10. ^ Presidential results by congressional district for districts used in 2018, from Daily Kos
  11. ^ Presidential results by congressional district for districts used in 2016, from Daily Kos
  12. ^ Carey, Kathleen (May 26, 2018). "Dems tap Mary Gay Scanlon as candidate for 7th District special election". Daily Local News. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  13. ^ Carey, Kathleen E. (November 7, 2018). "Scanlon makes history as Delco's first congresswoman". Daily Times. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
  14. ^ Martin, Jacquelyne (November 14, 2018). "Mary Gay Scanlon sworn in as first woman in Pennsylvania delegation since 2014". Daily Times. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
  15. ^ Olson, Laura (November 14, 2018). "Pennsylvania once again has a woman in Congress". The Morning Call. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
  16. ^ "Pelosi Announces Appointments to Rules Committee". Speaker of the House. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  17. ^ Blumenthal, Jeff (May 6, 2010). "Stewart to replace Makadon as Ballard Spahr chairman". Philadelphia Business Journal. Retrieved November 16, 2018.

External linksEdit