Democrats have chosen State Rep. Mike Driscoll as their candidate to fill the Philadelphia City Council seat vacated by Bobby Henon, who resigned last month following his conviction on federal corruption charges.

Council vacancies in Philadelphia are filled by special elections in which party ward leaders, not voters, choose the nominees. The vote last week by Democratic ward leaders in the Northeast Philly-based 6th Council District was unanimous, said former City Controller Alan Butkovitz, who, like Henon, is one of the ward leaders.

The Northeast Times first reported the ward leaders’ vote, which took place at the Ashburner Inn.

Driscoll said he wasn’t in the room when the eight ward leaders voted for him, but heard that Henon had spoken in his favor as Democratic City Committee chair Bob Brady looked on. Driscoll said he is, for now, still seeking reelection for his state House seat, but may withdraw from that race before or after the primary.

The local Republican Party did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its plans to nominate a candidate. Council President Darrell L. Clarke has not yet set a date for the special election to fill out Henon’s term, which would run through January 2024.

Driscoll is expected to easily win the heavily Democratic district. Henon in 2019 took more than 60% of the general election vote despite being under indictment in the case against him and former electricians union leader John J. Dougherty. A jury in November found both men guilty of bribery and honest services fraud charges, and they are scheduled to be sentenced in April.

» READ MORE: Councilmember Derek Green is proposing Philly’s biggest ethics and elections reforms in years

Republicans may hope to pull off an upset given the national political climate, with President Joe Biden’s approval ratings underwater as the midterm elections approach. Those hopes may get a boost if the special election doesn’t coincide with Pennsylvania’s May primary election, which would likely result in lower voter turnout.

The winner of the special election would have to defend the seat in an open election in 2023, when all of Council and the mayor’s race will be on the ballot.

A Philadelphia native, Driscoll, 61, graduated from Cardinal Dougherty High School and LaSalle University before earning a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

First elected to the Pennsylvania House in 2014, Driscoll serves on the commerce, finance, gaming oversight, and insurance committees.

Butkovitz said the mood at the Ashburner was celebratory.

“Bobby Henon gave kind of a valedictory [speech], and it was a love fest,” Butkovitz said. “A number of the other [ward leaders] have been big Mike Driscoll fans for a number of years, so this was an emotional moment for them.”