Mary Gay Scanlon

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Mary Gay Scanlon
Representative Mary Gay Scanlon Sworn into Office (cropped2).jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 5th district
Assumed office
November 6, 2018
Preceded byPat Meehan
Constituency7th district (2018–2019)
5th district (2019–present)
Personal details
Born (1959-08-30) August 30, 1959 (age 59)
Watertown, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Mark Stewart
EducationColgate University (BA)
University of Pennsylvania (JD)
WebsiteCampaign website
Hosue website

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. Scanlon is a member of the Democratic Party.

Early life and education[edit]

Scanlon was born in Watertown, New York.[1] She is the daughter of Daniel Scanlon 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] She 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 career[edit]

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 Representatives[edit]


2018 general election[edit]

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 existing districts had been gerrymandered. It covers Delaware County, the southwestern corner of Philadelphia and a small section of Montgomery County.[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 election[edit]

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.

Election results[edit]

Scanlon faced Pearl Kim in the special and regular elections and handily defeated her in both of them.[13] 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]

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 assignments[edit]

Political positions[edit]

Scanlon identifies herself as a progressive.[citation needed] She has voiced her opposition to the National Rifle Association and calls for greater gun control.[citation needed] 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 life[edit]

Scanlon lives in Swarthmore with her husband, Mark Stewart. They have three grown children.[17][18]

See also[edit]


  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 4 Jan 2019.
  17. ^ "Philly 'con man' gets $25K cash infusion from Johnny Doc's union | Clout".
  18. ^ Blumenthal, Jeff (May 6, 2010). "Stewart to replace Makadon as Ballard Spahr chairman". Philadelphia Business Journal. Retrieved November 16, 2018.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Pat Meehan
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
Susan Wild
Preceded by
Glenn Thompson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 5th congressional district

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Joseph Morelle
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Susan Wild