Mt. Washington resident and former Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project executive director Erin Molchany defeated Martin Schmotzer in the 22nd Pennsylvania house district Democratic primary for Pennsylvania representative on Tuesday, 52 to 39 percent. The remainder of the vote went to Shawn Lunny, who had been tossed from the ballot by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, but not in time for his name to be removed from the voting machines.
"I really appreciate everyone who made contributions financially, but let me tell you, it's the women," Molchany said in her victory speech, "I cannot tell you the ladies that opened their checkbooks."
It was an unusual election. Democrats had the opportunity to vote twice for the person they wanted to represent them in the seat vacated by Chelsa Wagner who left after being elected in November as Allegheny County Controller. Voters were asked to choose between Democrat Martin Schmotzer and Republican Chris Cratsley to serve out Wagner's unexpired term. In that race, the voters chose Schmotzer.
As if that weren't confusing enough for voters, Shawn Lunny, who did not garner enough signatures to warrant placement on the ballot, continued to run as a write-in candidate.
Cratsley was unopposed in his Republican primary. "We will keep pounding the pavement, going door-to-door, presenting our ideas to the voters and encouraging people to come out to vote in the general election," said Cratsley, "… make sure the people known they still have a choice."
Molchany is 34, and was endorsed by teachers unions and progressive groups, including Planned Parenthood. The Post-Gazette endorsed her as well, saying she was "the kind of Democrat the party should be encouraging," versus Martin Schmotzer.
In the coming months, Molchany said she would fight for public education — she opposes school vouchers — and that she would stand against public transportation funding cuts.