UPPER DARBY — Democrat Mike Zabel bested two-term Republican incumbent Jamie Santora in a tight race to win the 163rd House District.
Zabel, a first-time candidate for public office, secured 15,000 votes over Santora's 13,000 with 814 of 844 machines reporting at 10:45 p.m.
Zabel made his victory speech at the Swarthmore Inn with hundreds of Democratic supporters.
"I can finally take off my tie tonight," said Zabel as he started his speech. "We didn't raise the most money, we didn't have articles written about us. What we did is we went out and knocked on as many doors as anybody ever," the last of his statement cut off by an uproar of audience applause.
"In 2016," Zabel continued, "we heard all about what Democrats did wrong and how they weren't the party of ideas. Well we went out there and we talked to people and that is why you see what's up here today. I'm so proud of my team."
He thanked his wife Lauren, who he called his true running mate and co-counselor. Zabel dedicated his victory to his father, "the original Mike Zabel."
Zabel said the campaign was about cleaning up the toxic political atmosphere, and he wants decency. He extended that decency by thank Santora for the last four years he served as state representative to the 163rd District.
Santora conceded to Zabel around 9:30 p.m. from the Drexelbrook Catering & Special Events Venue in Drexel Hill.
The 163rd House District represents portions of Haverford and Upper Darby townships plus the boroughs of Aldan and Clifton Heights.
With state Rep. Margo Davidson winning reelection in the 164th house district, Upper Darby will now have both of its state representatives be Democrats.