Legislative Primary Preview


“Run hard or unopposed” is a common campaign motto. And with the Pennsylvania primary election just days away, it’s worth a look to see how many members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly are running hard and how many get to sit back and run unopposed.

PA House:

All 203 members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives are up for reelection this year. Among them, a total of 42 Democrats and 55 Republicans get to run unopposed in both the primary election next Tuesday and the general election in November. That’s a grand total of 97 members – or 47 percent – that we’re guaranteed to see again in the 2015-2016 legislative session. Noteworthy members in this enviable position include: House Floor Leader Mike Turzai (R-28), House Democratic Chairman of the Health Committee Flo Fabrizio (D-02), House Human Services Chairman Gene DiGirolamo (R-18), House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel (D-23), House Democratic Chairman of the Liquor Control Committee Paul Costa (D-34), House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Chairman John Maher (R-40), House Republican Policy Chairman Dave Reed (R-62), House Democratic Whip Mike Hanna (D-76), House Democratic Policy Chairman Mike Sturla (D-96), House InsuranceChairwoman Tina Pickett (R-110), House Democratic Caucus Administrator Neal Goodman (D-123), House Democratic Judiciary Chairman Tom Caltagirone (D-127), House Democratic Chairman of Aging and Older Adult Services Steve Samuelson, House Democratic Chair of Local Government Bob Freeman (D-136), House Chairwoman of Children and Youth Katherine Watson (R-144), House Democratic Labor Committee Chairman Bill Keller (D-184), House Democratic Caucus Secretary Ron Waters (D-191) and House Democratic Chairwoman of Children and Youth Louise Bishop (D-192). Also of note, newcomer Russ Diamond will assume the seat being vacated by retiring Rep. RoseMarie Swanger (R-102), without facing a primary or a general election challenger.

Of the remaining 106 races, 28 will be decided in the primary election, as no one has filed petitions to challenge these candidates in the general election. Eighteen of those seats will still be held by Democrats, and ten will be held by Republicans come next week. Notable races there include Democratic Insurance Chairman Tony DeLuca (D-32), Democratic Chairman of Commerce Curtis Thomas (D-181), Democratic Chairman of Human Services Angel Cruz (D-180), Democratic Chairman of Gaming Oversight Rosita Youngblood (D-198) and Democratic Chairman of State Government Mark Cohen (D-202).  Also included are primaries that pit incumbent versus incumbent: Democratic Rep. Harry Readshaw and Rep. Erin Molchany will go head to head to represent the newly drawn 36th district, and in the northeast, Democratic Rep. Kevin Haggarty and Rep. Frank Farina will battle to keep their turf in the 112th district.

That leaves 78 races to be decided in the fall; however, even among those races, some members will face a primary challenge. This group includes 14 incumbents running hard to keep their seat against a challenger in next week’s primary and then again in November. They include Democratic Chairman of Consumer Affairs Pete Daley (D-49), Democratic Chairman of Urban Affairs Ted Harhai (D-58), Republican Whip Stan Saylor (R-94), Chairwoman of Gaming Oversight Maruee Gingirch (R-101), Chairwoman of Professional Licensure Julie Harhart (R-183) and Democratic Chairman of Education James Roebuck (D-188).

Also of particular interest is Rep. Mark Painter (D-146). While Painter is unopposed in the primary, one of his potential opponents in the general is Republican Tom Quigley. Painter unseated Quigley in the 2012 general election, making Quigley the only Republican incumbent to lose his seat that election cycle. If Quigley survives the primary, expect a rematch in the 146th in the fall.

PA Senate:

Of the 50 member Pennsylvania Senate, only 25 members face election challenges this year.

Among those 25 members, 10 will run unopposed in the primary and have no opponent in the general, locking up their seat already. They are Democratic Whip Tony Williams (D-08), Democratic Chairman of Environmental Resources and Energy John Yudichak (D-14),  Democratic Chairwoman of Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Lisa Boscola (D-18), Chairwoman of Labor and Industry  Lisa Baker (R-20), Veterans’ Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Chairman Bob Mensch (R-24), Local Government Chairman John Eichleberger (R-32), Appropriations Chairman Jake Corman (R-34), Chairman of Aging and Youth Randy Vulakovich (R-38),  Democratic Chairman of Community, Economic and Recreational Development Wayne Fontana (D-42),  and Chairman of Education Mike Folmer (R-48).

Of the remaining 15 members, all will face a challenger in the general election in November; however, three will have to win their primaries first. They are Democratic Chair of Labor and Industry Christine Tartaglione (D-02), Leanna Washington (D-04) and Chairman of Intergovernmental Operations,Scott Wagner (R-28). Wagner’s seat is barely warm, having just won the 28th as a write-in candidate on the Republican side.

Five of the seats are up for grabs due to retirements. Notably, retiringrepresentatives  Ryan Aument and Gordon Dellinger will square off on the Republican ticket to run in the November for the seat being vacated by Sen. Mike Brubaker (R-36); retiringrepresentatives Gregory Lucas and Michele Brooks will face each other in the Republican primary but have a challenger in the general for the seat being vacated by the retirement of Sen. Bob Robbins (R-50); and finally, retiringrepresentative Deberah Kula will face a Democratic challenger in the primary before she can run in the general election for the seat being vacated by the retirement of Sen. Richard Kasunic (D-32).

For the outcomes of these races, be sure to read next week’s From Second and State: Capitol Wrap newsletter.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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