Government
2:49 pm
Tue April 24, 2012

Smith Versus Casey for Senate in the Fall

Armstrong County Tea Party founder and former coal company owner Tom Smith emerged as the winner from a 5-member field for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.

With 99% of precincts counted across the commonwealth, Smith has 39% of the votes compared to Sam Rohrer's 22%, Steven Welch with 21%, David Christian with 11% and Marc Scaringi's 7%.

Smith will face Senator Bob Casey in the November election. Casey defeated Joseph Vodvarka, of Robinson Township, 80% to 20 for the Democratic nomination. Casey is seeking a second 6-year term.

House District 12

One Democrat incumbent congressman has defeated another in the redrawn district 12. With 99% of precincts reporting, Mark Critz of Johnstown topped Jason Altmire of Pittsburgh's North Hills. Critz received 51% of the vote and Altmire 49%.

Altmire issued a statement congratulating Critz on his "hard-fought and well-deserved victory in the primary. He has my full support as his campaign moves on to the fall. I want to thank my constituents who supported me by an overwhelming margin." His statement continued, "Congratulations also to the Democrats who reside in Mark's portion of the new 12th District, especially those in Cambria County, who turned out to vote in astounding numbers to support their candidate. It was that turnout that won the election, and I have no doubt that the remainder of the district will have the same level of support for Congressman Critz as they get to know him."

Critz will take on Republican Keith Rothfus in the fall. Rothfus was unopposed for his party's nomination. The attorney from Edgeworth, Allegheny County barely lost in 2010 to Altmire, 50.9% to 49.1%.

House District 14

In district 14, 58-year old Mike Doyle of Forest Hills is a step closer to his 10th 2-year term in Congress. He defeated 62-year-old Janis Brooks of North Versailles, a pastor and CEO of Citizens to Abolish Domestic Apartheid, a social service agency, 80.1% to 19.9%.

Doyle will take on optometrist Hans Lessmann of Forest Hills, who was unopposed for the Republican nomination.

House District 18

Congressman Tim Murphy has won renomination as he seeks a 6th 2-year term in the House. The 59-year-old Upper St. Clair resident defeated Evan Feinberg in the GOP primary 63.2% to 36.8%. Feinberg, a former staffer for the conservative Heritage Foundation, was supported by the Tea Party.

Murphy will face Larry Maggi, who was unopposed for the Democratic nomination. Maggi was elected to his third 4-year term as a Washington County Commissioner last November.

Statewide Row Office Races

Former Lackawanna County Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Kane is the Democratic nominee for the commonwealth's top law enforcement official. Kane defeated Patrick Murphy in the Democratic primary for attorney general by a margin of 53% to 47%. Kane will take on Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed who was unopposed for the GOP nomination for attorney general.

Veteran State Representative John Maher (R-Allegheny County) has captured the Republican nomination for auditor general. Maher received 66.1% of the votes compared to 33.9% for Frank Pinto. Maher takes on Democrat Eugene DePasquale in the fall. DePasquale also is a member of the state House.

Auditor General Jack Wagner is barred from running for a third straight 4-year term in that post.

We knew the contestants for November's general election for treasurer before the first vote was cast because there was only one candidate on both the Republican and Democratic ballots.

49-year old Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan is the Republican nominee for treasurer. In the general election she will challenge Democratic incumbent Robert McCord of Lower Merion, Montgomery County. The 53-year old McCord was elected as treasurer in 2008.

Raja Wins in 37th Senate Race

Voters across Pennsylvania today chose nominees for all 203 seats in the state House and 25 of the 50 in the state Senate.

In Allegheny County, there are 25 Senate and House districts but only six of them had contested primaries.

D. Raja, who lost his bid for Allegheny County Executive last November, garnered the GOP nomination in the 37th Senatorial district. Raja received 44% of the vote compared to 31.1% for Sue Means and 24.9% for Mark Mustio. 41-year old State Senator John Pippy (R-Allegheny County), decided not to seek a third 4-year term in the Senate.

No Democrat was on the primary ballot in the 37th.

The other three Senate races in Allegheny County were uncontested. In district 43, Democratic incumbent Jay Costa of Forest Hills is seeking his fifth 4-year term. He was unopposed and there were no Republicans on the primary ballot.

State Senator Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny County) was unopposed for renomination in district 45 and no Republicans filed.

In Senate district 47, much of which is in Beaver and Lawrence Counties, the Republican incumbent Elder Vogel, Jr. was unopposed on the GOP ballot. He will be challenged in the general election by Kimberly Pazzanita Villella, who was the only candidate on the Democratic ballot in this district.

Contested House Races

House district 24 was the scene of the big upset of the 2012 primary election. 15-term State Representative Joe Preston (D-Allegheny County) was upset by Ed Gainey by a 2-1 margin. Gainey pulled in 65.5% of the votes while Preston garnered 34.1%. There was no Republican on the ballot in district 24.

There was actually a double contest in district 22. In the special election in that district, Democrat Martin Schmotzer will succeed Chelsa Wagner who resigned after being elected as Allegheny County Controller. Schmotzer defeated Republican Chris Cratsley in the special election 51.7% to 38.2%.

However, Schmotzer won't serve beyond the 8 months remaining in Wagner's term because Erin Molchany defeated him in the Democratic primary 53.1% to 38.9%. Molchany will take on Chris Cratsley who was unopposed for the GOP nomination.

In legislative district 20, State Representative Adam Ravenstahl, brother of Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, held off two challengers in the Democratic primary. Adam Ravenstahl received 56% of the votes while Mark Purcell pulled in 35.7% and David Schuilenburg 7.8%. There was no Republican on the ballot in district 20.

State Representative Robert Matzie is seeking a third term in office in House district 16. He was unopposed in the Democratic primary and will face Kathy Coder who defeated Jeremy Angus in the GOP primary.

Democrat Joe Markosek of Monroeville was unopposed on the Democratic ballot in House District 25. He will take on Plum Borough Council President Mike Doyle who defeated John Yakim for the GOP nomination 53.5% to 46.4%.

The other contested legislative primary in Allegheny County was in legislative district 39 where Democrat David Levdansky of Elizabeth is trying to win back that seat. Levdansky, a member of the House for 26 years, beat Robert Rhoderick in the Democratic primary 66.1% to 32.9%. Republican incumbent Rick Saccone, who upset Levdansky in 2010, beat challenger Shaunna D'Alessandro 62.1% to 37.1% on the GOP ballot.

No Contests

All other House districts in Allegheny County had uncontested primaries.

In district 19, Democratic incumbent Jake Wheatley was unopposed and there was no Republican on the ballot.

In district 21, Democratic incumbent Dom Costa, seeking a third 2-year term, was unopposed and no Republican filed.

District 23 Democratic incumbent Dan Frankel was unopposed for renomination and there was no candidate on the GOP ballot. Frankel is completing his seventh 2-year term.

In district 27, Democratic incumbent Dan Deasy was unopposed for renomination in his bid for a third term. No Republican filed.

House Majority Leader Mike Turzai has a clear path to reelection in district 28. He was unopposed in the GOP primary and no Democratic candidate filed.

Republican incumbent Randy Vulakovich, a member of the House in district 30 since 2007, did not have a challenger in the GOP primary. Vulakovich will face David Tusick, the only Democrat on the ballot in this district.

In district 32, 15-term incumbent Anthony DeLuca of Verona was not challenged in the Democratic primary. In the November general election, DeLuca will take on Lawrence Paladin, who faced no opposition for the Republican nomination.

House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody has held the district 33 seat since 1989. In the fall election, he will be challenged by Republican Gerry Vaerewyck who was unopposed on the GOP primary ballot.

In district 34, Democratic incumbent Paul Costa is seeking his eighth 2-year term and was unopposed for renomination and no Republican filed.

Representative Marc Gergely is in his 10th year in the House in district 35. He was unopposed for the Democratic nomination in Tuesday's primary and there was no Republican on the ballot.

Nine term Democratic Representative Harry Readshaw has a clear path to another two years in the district 36 seat. Readshaw was not opposed in the Democratic primary and no Republicans were on the ballot.

In district 38, Democratic incumbent Bill Kortz was unopposed in the primary in his bid for a fourth term. No candidate filed in the GOP primary.

Republican John Maher from district 40 won renomination for that seat but also was the winner for the GOP nomination for auditor general. No Democrat filed for the primary in district 40.

In district 42, Democratic Representative Matt Smith was unopposed in the primary and there were no Republicans on the ballot. Smith was first elected to the House in 2006.

In district 44, Republican incumbent Mark Mustio will face Democrat Mark Scappe in the November election as they were each unopposed for their parties' nominations. Mustio lost his bid for the Republican nomination in the 37th Senate district.

In district 46, much of which is in Washington County, Democratic incumbent Jesse White was unopposed for renomination and no Republican filed.