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Beyond the races for governor and lieutenant governor, neither of which turned out to be close, there were some close and interesting primary contests for districts in the U.S. House and state House and Senate. While most of the U.S. House races to watch didn’t produce results that were all that interesting, there were a couple eyebrow-raising results in state Legislature contests. Top of the list was state Sen. Leanna Washington losing the Democratic primary in 4th Senatorial District. Washington was charged in March by state Attorney General Kathleen Kane with allegedly using her elected office for political and financial gain. While Washington hasn’t had her day in court regarding those charges, the court of public opinion issued its ruling Wednesday, with Washington, according to unofficial election results, getting 33.7 percent of the vote (13,440 votes) compared to Arthur Haywood III’s 39.8 percent (15,874) and Brian Gralnick’s 26.5 percent (10,590). Gralnick was considered to be a significant challenge to Washington, but it appears as though Haywood will be taking on Robin Matthew Gilchrist, who was unopposed in the district’s Republican primary, in the heavily Democratic district during the fall general election.
A nasty primary race involving incumbent state Sen. Tina Tartaglione in Philadelphia’s 2nd Senatorial District ended up not being all that close: unofficial results have Tartaglione pulling 50.7 percent of the vote (9,609 votes) in the three-way contest, with challengers Daniel Savage and Tomas Sanchez getting 29.3 percent (5,542) and 20 percent (3,790), respectively.
There were also a pair of races in the state House pitting incumbent Democrats against each other, thanks to the new legislative redistricting map now in effect … but only one produced anything resembling a close finish. In the 112th Legislative District, Rep. Frank Farina and Rep. Kevin Haggerty squared off, along with Robert Munley, with unofficial results showing Farina winning with 44.3 percent (5,573) to Haggerty’s 37.3 percent (4,843) and Munley’s 18.3 percent (2,379). The nastier of the two Democratic head-to-head contests – matching Rep. Harry Readshaw vs. Rep. Erin Molchany in the new 36th Legislative District – ended with unofficial results showing Readshaw easily defeating Molchany, 60.1 percent (3,904 votes) to 39.9 percent (2,593). A pair of open Senate seats prompted some interesting match-ups between Republicans, but neither produced interesting finishes. Proving that some endorsements matter, state Rep. Ryan Aument, who had the Lancaster County GOP’s endorsement, defeated state Rep. Gordon Denlinger for the 36th Senatorial District seat opened up by Sen. Mike Brubaker’s retirement announcement. Unofficial results indicate Aument got 61.6 percent of the vote (10,071) compared to Denlinger’s 38.4 percent (6,292). The fall general election will see Aument take on Gary Schreckengost, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary, in this heavily Republican district. And in the 50th Senatorial District, made open by the retirement announcement of Sen. Bob Robbins, state Rep. Michele Brooks appears to have easily outpaced both state Rep. Greg Lucas and businesswoman Jane MacPherson-Mrozek in the GOP primary. Unofficial results show Brooks, while she might not have been the favorite of outgoing Sen. Robbins’ staff, tallied 68.8 percent of the vote (10,368 votes), while Lucas got 23.5 percent (3,540) and MacPherson-Mrozek pulled 7.7 percent (1,157). Brooks will be matched up in the fall with Michael Muha, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary, in this fairly Republican district. And what some considered one of the more hotly-contested Democratic primaries not involving two sitting legislators, state Rep. Margo Davidson seems to have easily put to rest questions about her ability to hold the 164th Legislative District seat. Davidson, who made few progressive Democratic friends with her votes in favor of abortion-related and school choice-related bills, was, according to unofficial results, get 52.9 percent of the vote (2,675 votes) in the Delaware County district, compared to the 42.4 percent (2,143) received by Billy Smith (who was favored by some Democrats) and Dafan Zhang’s 4.8 percent (241 votes). However, state Rep. Mike Fleck, R-Huntingdon, who became the first openly gay member of the PA General Assembly after winning re-election in 2012 in the 81st Legislative District, could be paying the price for his announcement after the 2012 election. According to unofficial election results, Fleck is behind a write-in candidate – presumed to be Huntingdon County Treasurer Richard Irvin, who mounted a write-in candidacy when his name was removed from the ballot – by 306 votes (3,394 to 3,700), based on the tallies from the Centre County, Huntingdon County and Mifflin County portions of the district, although the whole situation remains fairly unclear at the moment.
Other races on the watch-list of many political observers: other lawmakers with allegations of wrongdoing hanging over their heads had mixed results, with state Rep. J.P. Mirada losing in the 197th Legislative District’s Democratic primary, while state Rep. Vanessa L. Brown easily won in the 190th Legislative District Democratic primary; and,state Rep. Jesse White, criticized by many for his social media attacks on constituents regarding natural gas drilling, won the Democratic primary in the 46th Legislative District; and a few other Allegheny County House incumbents who had primary opposition cruised to victory Tuesday, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review; and, state Rep. Stan Saylor, R-York, was the only member of House GOP leadership to have a primary opponent, which he easily dispatched, writes The Patriot-News of Harrisburg. Four U.S. House races had been on the watch-lists of many politicos, but only one of those produced anything close to a photo finish. Unofficial results have Iraq and Afghan war veteran Kevin Strouse defeating chemist and small businesswoman Shaughnessy Naughton with 51.1 percent of the vote (18,428 votes) to 48.9 percent (17,610) in the Democratic primary for the 8th Congressional District in Bucks and Montgomery counties. Strouse will take on the incumbent, Republican Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, in the fall general election. The Strouse-Naughton race had been considered a toss-up by most observers, which led to some nastiness near the end of the primary campaign. Naughton – who wants a permanent moratorium on natural gas drilling in the Delaware River basin – trying to paint Strouse – who supports the current moratorium but would allow renewed drilling under certain circumstances – as a fracking supporter and enemy of clean water. Strouse attacked Naughton over a contract her family’s real estate publishing company has with a Georgia-based company, a company Strouse claimed opposes unionization. The much-discussed 13th Congressional District Democratic primary turned into a nasty four-way tug-of-war that ended in a relatively easy win for state Rep. Brendan Boyle. While the 13th District encompasses areas in both Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, it contains a much larger section of Philadelphia (Northeast Philadelphia), which happens to be the majority of Boyle’s current 170th House district. Unofficial results show Boyle winning with nearly 40.6 percent of the vote (24,476 vote), with more than 19,000 of those votes coming from the larger Philadelphia portion of the 13th District. The remaining sixty percent or so of the vote was divided by former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies (27.3 percent, or 16,506 votes); state Sen. Daylin Leach (16.7 percent, 10,063 votes); and physician Val Arkoosh (15.4 percent, 9,299 votes). In the fall general election, Boyle will take on Carson Dee Adcock, who won the Republican primary over Beverly Plosa-Bowser, 65.8 percent (10,111 votes) to 34.2 percent (5,248); however, the district has a heavy Democratic registrations, so there is a presumption by many that the Democratic primary has already decided who will take the congressional seat being vacated by its current holder, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz.
In the 9th Congressional District, incumbent Republican Rep. Bill Shuster didn’t get the scare some thought he would from businessman Art Halvorson, with unofficial results showing Shuster getting nearly 52.8 percent of the vote (24,106 votes) compared to Halvorson’s 34.5 percent (15,761). However, Shuster’s road to victory could have been made a bit easier by the third candidate in the 9th’s GOP primary, U.S. Army veteran Travis Schooley, who pulled in 12.7 percent of the vote (5,802). Shuster will take on Franklin County mental health professional Allana Hartzock, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. Hartzock previously challenged Shuster in a 2001 special election, then as a Green Party candidate, and both she (getting only 4.1 percent of the vote) and state Rep. Scott Conklin (who got 44 percent of the vote), the Democratic candidate, lost to Shuster. And in the contest to see who would take on incumbent Republican Rep. Keith Rothfus in western Pennsylvania’s fairly Republican 12th Congressional District, businesswoman Erin McClelland easily defeated John Hugya, the former chief of staff for longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Jack Murtha. Unofficial results show McClelland, who many considered to be a relative political novice despite her ability to raise as much money as her primary opponent, getting 68.1 percent of the vote (32,873 votes) compared to Hugya’s 31.9 percent (15,373).