Jump to content

Mary Gay Scanlon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mary Gay Scanlon
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania
Assumed office
November 13, 2018
Preceded byPat Meehan
Personal details
Born (1959-08-30) August 30, 1959 (age 64)
Syracuse, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseMark Stewart
EducationColgate University (BA)
University of Pennsylvania (JD)
WebsiteHouse website

Mary Gay Scanlon (born August 30, 1959) is an American attorney and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, she has represented Pennsylvania's 5th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives since 2019. The district is based in Delaware County, a mostly suburban county west of Philadelphia, and also includes parts of South and Southwest Philadelphia and slivers of Chester and Montgomery counties. Scanlon spent the final two months of 2018 as the member for Pennsylvania's 7th congressional district. She was elected to both positions on November 6, 2018. That day, she ran in a special election in the old 7th to serve out the term of her predecessor, Pat Meehan, and in a regular election for a full two-year term in the new 5th. She was sworn in as the member for the 7th on November 13, 2018, and transferred to the 5th on January 3, 2019.

Early life and education[edit]

Scanlon was born in Syracuse, 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 mother, Carol Florence Yehle, was an English professor at Jefferson Community College in Watertown, NY. 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 B.A. from Colgate University in 1980 and her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1984. Upon completing her education, she became a judicial law clerk for Judge J. Sydney Hoffman of 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[5] and served as its president from 2009 to 2011.[4][6] She continued as a member of the board until 2015.[5]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]


2018 general[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 one of several that had been significantly redrawn 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, slivers of Montgomery and Chester counties, and the southwestern corner of Philadelphia, including the areas around the South Philadelphia Sports Complex and Philadelphia International Airport.[7] Scanlon said that her interest in running was also piqued by the fact that Pennsylvania had no women in its congressional delegation.[8] She was endorsed by former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell and the Philadelphia Inquirer.[6]

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 former Assistant United States Attorney for United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Ashley Lunkenheimer, who received 9,060 votes or a 15.3% share.[9] "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 woman in Congress."[10] The new 5th 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.[11] By comparison, Clinton won the old 7th with 49% of the vote.[12]

2018 special[edit]

Meehan resigned from the House on April 27, 2018, a month before the primary. Scanlon was named the Democratic candidate in a special election to succeed him.[13] As a result, she ran in two elections on November 6, a special election for the balance of Meehan's fourth 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.

2018 election results

On November 6, Scanlon defeated Kim in both the special and regular elections.[14] The margin was much closer in the special election for the 7th district because it took place under the old district 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,[15] 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.[16] She is only the third Democrat to represent this district and its predecessors since 1939.


On November 3, 2020, Scanlon defeated Republican nominee Dasha Pruett with 64.7% of the vote (255,743 votes) to Pruett's 35.3% (139,552).[17]

Scanlon with her family being sworn in by Speaker Nancy Pelosi

She transferred to the 5th district in January 2019, with two months' more seniority than the other freshmen elected in 2018.


In 2021, Scanlon introduced the ACCESS Act of 2021, which would mandate data portability on major tech platforms.[18]

Scanlon voted with President Joe Biden's stated position 100% of the time in the 117th Congress, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis.[19]

Foreign Policy[edit]

In 2023, Scanlon was among 50 Democrats to vote to remove American troops from Somalia by voting for H.Con.Res. 30.[20][21] Scanlon was among 56 Democrats to vote in favor of H.Con.Res. 21 which directed President Joe Biden to remove U.S. troops from Syria within 180 days.[22][23]

A member of the Irish-American community in Pennsylvania, Scanlon is a member of the Congressional Friends of Ireland Caucus and traveled with President Joe Biden to Ireland in 2023.[24]

Committee assignments[25][edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Electoral history[edit]

Democratic primary results, 2018 (regular)
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 (regular)
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
Pennsylvania's 5th congressional district, 2020 (regular)
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mary Gay Scanlon 255,743 64.7
Republican Dasha Pruett 139,552 35.3
Total votes 395,295 100.0
Pennsylvania's 5th congressional district, 2022
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mary Gay Scanlon 205,128 65.1
Republican David Galluch 110,058 34.9
Total votes 315,186 100.0
Democratic hold

Political positions[edit]

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."[8] 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."[6]

Personal life[edit]

Scanlon lives in Swarthmore with her husband, Mark Stewart. They have three adult children.[27] Scanlon is Roman Catholic and can trace her ancestry back to Ballybunion in County Kerry, Ireland.[28][29]

Scanlon was the victim of a carjacking on December 22, 2021, during which she was robbed at gunpoint. The crime took place in South Philadelphia, after Scanlon finished touring Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park that day. She was physically unharmed.[30] The Delaware State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation recovered Scanlon's car later in the day in New Castle County, Delaware, near the Christiana Mall.[31] Five people, who were inside the car when police found it, were taken into custody about six hours after the carjacking.[32][33][34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "SCANLON, Mary Gay | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives". history.house.gov. Retrieved February 17, 2021.
  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 "Watertown native runs for congress in Pennsylvania". Watertown Daily Times. May 1, 2018. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Rose, Alex (November 15, 2018). "Scanlon takes helm of 7th District in Congress". Daily Times. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Sheehan, Neil (February 25, 2018). "Former Wallingford-Swarthmore school board president launches bid for Congress in the 5th". Delaware County Daily Times. Archived from the original on March 15, 2018. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  9. ^ "Pennsylvania Primary Election Results". New York Times. May 17, 2018. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Presidential results by congressional district for districts used in 2018, from Daily Kos
  12. ^ Presidential results by congressional district for districts used in 2016, from Daily Kos
  13. ^ Carey, Kathleen (May 26, 2018). "Dems tap Mary Gay Scanlon as candidate for 7th District special election". Daily Local News. Retrieved May 29, 2018.
  14. ^ Carey, Kathleen E. (November 7, 2018). "Scanlon makes history as Delco's first congresswoman". Daily Times. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
  15. ^ Martin, Jacquelyne (November 14, 2018). "Mary Gay Scanlon sworn in as first woman in Pennsylvania delegation since 2014". Daily Times. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
  16. ^ Olson, Laura (November 14, 2018). "Pennsylvania once again has a woman in Congress". The Morning Call. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
  17. ^ "Pennsylvania's 5th Congressional District election, 2020". Ballotpedia. Retrieved August 1, 2022.
  18. ^ Ghaffary, Shirin (June 11, 2021). "What you need to know about the House's opening bid to rein in Big Tech". Vox. Retrieved March 13, 2022.
  19. ^ Bycoffe, Aaron; Wiederkehr, Anna (April 22, 2021). "Does Your Member Of Congress Vote With Or Against Biden?". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved November 15, 2023.
  20. ^ "House rejects Gaetz resolution to remove US troops from Somalia". Roll Call. April 27, 2023.
  21. ^ "H.Con.Res. 30: Directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of … -- House Vote #201 -- Apr 27, 2023". GovTrack.us.
  22. ^ "H.Con.Res. 21: Directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of … -- House Vote #136 -- Mar 8, 2023".
  23. ^ "House Votes Down Bill Directing Removal of Troops From Syria". Associated Press. March 8, 2023.
  24. ^ "Mary Gay Scanlon on 'protecting the guardrails of democracy' in US and Ireland". June 19, 2023.
  25. ^ "Mary Gay Scanlon - Committees and Caucuses". US House of Representatives. Retrieved September 10, 2023.
  26. ^ "Caucus Members". US House of Representatives. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  27. ^ Blumenthal, Jeff (May 6, 2010). "Stewart to replace Makadon as Ballard Spahr chairman". Philadelphia Business Journal. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
  28. ^ "Meet Mary Gay Scanlon, the education advocate and Ballard lawyer running for Congress | #PA5". May 9, 2018.
  29. ^ Boyle, Fionnuala (June 11, 2023). "US Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon on Irish pride and continuing to protect 'the guardrails of democracy'". Irish Star. Retrieved September 10, 2023.
  30. ^ Palmer, Chris; Marin, Max (December 22, 2021). "U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon carjacked and robbed in South Philly after touring FDR Park". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved December 22, 2021.
  31. ^ Staff (December 22, 2021). "Sources: Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon's stolen vehicle located in Delaware". Philadelphia, PA: WPVI-TV. Retrieved December 22, 2021.
  32. ^ 5 in custody after Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon carjacked at gunpoint in Philadelphia, NBC News, December 22, 2021
  33. ^ A 19-year-old has been charged in the carjacking of U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, police say. Four other teens were also arrested, Philadelphia Inquirer, December 23, 2021
  34. ^ Democratic congresswoman carjacked at gunpoint in Philadelphia, CNN, December 22, 2021

External links[edit]

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

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

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by United States representatives by seniority
Succeeded by