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20 legislative primary results that set the stage for November and beyond

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Peter Hall and John Cole, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
April 24, 2024

As Democrats look to flip the state Senate in November, House Democrats fight to expand their “humble majority,” and established Republicans fend off primary challengers from their party’s conservative wing, the Capital-Star has flagged 20 noteworthy races from Tuesday’s primary.

All vote totals are unofficial results from the Pennsylvania Department of State. 

15th Senate District

State Rep. Patty Kim coasted to victory for the Democratic nomination in the open race to replace retiring GOP state Sen. John DiSanto. 

Kim, who was first elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 2012, defeated Harrisburg pastor Alvin Q. Taylor. Kim racked up endorsements from a long list of Democrats, including Gov. Josh Shapiro.

Dauphin County treasurer Nick DiFrancesco defeated Army veteran Ken Stambaugh by nearly 10 points to secure the GOP nomination for the seat in the Harrisburg region.

Pennsylvania Democrats have targeted the seat in their quest to flip the upper chamber. When Kim launched her campaign in October, she cited data showing President Joe Biden carried the district’s new boundaries by 15 points over then-President Donald Trump in 2020.

45th Senate District

State Rep. Nick Pisciottano (D-Allegheny) defeated Mackenzie White, a licensed social worker and community organizer, to win the Democratic Party nomination for an open battleground Senate seat in western Pennsylvania.

Pisciottano won 73% of the vote with the support from retiring longtime Sen. Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny) and labor unions in the region.

Jennifer Dintini, a security firm owner, won the Republican Party nomination over Kami Stulginskas. 

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Saturday before the primary election that Stulginskas claimed Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward offered her a job to drop out of the race. Ward confirmed she offered Stulginskas a job, but didn’t confirm whether she asked her to drop out of the race.

49th Senate District

State Sen. Dan Laughlin (R-Erie) will face former Erie County Democratic Party Chair Jim Wertz The seat is another that Democrats hope to flip in November, while Laughlin looks to secure a third term.

Laughlin was unopposed in the GOP primary, while Wertz defeated Selena King, a former staffer for U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) and former chairperson of the Erie County Democratic Party’s Black Caucus.

Biden carried the new boundaries for the 49th District by 2.4 points over Trump in 2020, PennLive reported. Under the district’s old boundaries in 2020, Laughlin defeated Democrat Julie Slomski by just under 20 points.

10th Legislative District

State Rep. Amen Brown’s (D-Philadelphia) reelection bid was still too close to call on Wednesday afternoon. Brown, who has represented parts of West Philadelphia in the Pennsylvania General Assembly since 2021, holds a roughly 100 vote margin over Cass Green, a community activist, who he narrowly defeated in 2022. 

Sadja Blackwell was in a distant third place as of Wednesday afternoon.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Brown has been criticized for aligning himself with Republicans on some issues like school choice, although he is backed by top Democrats in the state House. Green, a progressive, had support from Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and state Sen. Nikil Saval (D-Philadelphia).

32nd Legislative District

State Rep. Joe McAndrew (D-Allegheny) is on his way to serving his first full-term in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. 

He defeated Penn Hills Mayor Pauline Calabrese for the Democratic Party nomination for the seat in western Pennsylvania on Tuesday, while no Republicans have filed for the seat. 

In 2023, McAndrew was selected by the party as their candidate and won a special election in February of that year to fill the House seat left vacant by the death of state Rep. Anthony DeLuca.

McAndrew had support in the race from local unions and Planned Parenthood’s state political arm, WESA reported.

34th Legislative District

State Rep. Abigail Salisbury (D-Allegheny) also fended off a primary challenger in western Pennsylvania and is on her way to serving a full-term in the state House. 

She defeated Ashley Comans, a Wilkinsburg School Board director, for the Democratic Party nomination for the seat. No Republicans have filed to run in the district. 

Salisbury, a lawyer and former Swissvale Borough councilmember, was elected to the seat in February 2023 in a special election, after Summer Lee resigned, following her election to Congress. Salisbury previously challenged Lee in a primary for the state House seat in 2022, but was unsuccessful. 

Salisbury was backed by House Democrats in the race and local unions, while Comans was supported by Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, Lee, and Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato.

38th Legislative District

Stone Sobieralski, a borough councilor from Whitehall, will be the Republican Party’s nominee for the seat after running unopposed, while the Democratic race remains too close to call as of Wednesday afternoon. 

John Inglis, a West Mifflin School District educator, holds a narrow lead in a three candidate race for the Democratic Party nomination over Anthony “AJ” Olasz, a law clerk, and Victoria Schmotzer, a policy analyst.

Inglis had support from his cousin, state Rep. Nick Pisciottano, in the race, while Olasz is the grandson of Richard Olasz, who held the same House seat, and Schmotzer’s father, Martin, held a state House seat in the region.

Inglis declared victory in the race late on Tuesday night, although it appears the race has not formally been called.

Pisciottano was unopposed in 2022 and defeated Republican Linda Book by 12 points in 2020. 

63rd Legislative District

Josh Bashline, a U.S. Army veteran and former legislative staffer, won a crowded primary over Darlene Smail, Lisa Kerle, and Clay Kennemuth to secure the Republican Party nomination for the seat that includes all of Clarion County and parts of Armstrong County.

Bashline will face Democrat Pat Ritchie for the open seat in November. 

State Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion) announced in December that she was not seeking reelection for the seat. Oberlander ran unopposed for the GOP-friendly seat in the two most recent elections and cruised to victory over Democrat Conrad Warner in 2018. 

80th Legislative District

State Rep. Jim Gregory (R-Blair) was defeated by Scott Barger, a retired pastor and former radio talk show host, in the Republican primary. Barger appears to have a clear path to the seat since no Democrats were on the primary ballot. 

Gregory, a former broadcaster, has held the seat representing parts of Blair and Huntingdon Counties since 2019.

According to WPSU, Gregory faced criticism for supporting Democrat Mark Rozzi’s bid for House Speaker in 2023, although he later called on Rozzi to resign for not changing his party affiliation. Both Gregory and Rozzi worked together on child sexual abuse related issues.

State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin) supported Barger’s candidacy.

90th Legislative District

Chad Reichard is poised to be the next state representative for the district representing parts of Franklin County after winning the Republican Party primary over Janon Gray. 

Reichard, a former legislative director, will be unopposed in the general election since no Democrats have filed for the seat. 

Rep. Paul Schemel (R-Franklin) has served five terms in the state House, but announced in August 2023 that he would not seek reelection in 2024. 

92nd Legislative District

State Rep. Dawn Keefer’s state Senate run this year opened her strongly Republican leaning York County district seat for a five-way GOP primary on Tuesday. The winner, with nearly 37% of the vote, was Dillsburg educator Marc Anderson.

In the general election, Anderson will face Democrat Dan Almoney, who was unchallenged in the primary. Almoney, who founded a video production company in York County, ran unsuccessfully against Keefer in 2022.

100th Legislative District

Nine-term incumbent House Minority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) won 54% of the vote in his Lancaster County district to stave off a primary challenge by Sadsbury Township landscaping business owner Dave Nissley. Cutler has no opponent in the general election.

Nissley, who cited conservative author Eric Metaxas as an inspiration to run, was outspent by Cutler by about $300,000. But Nissley received in-kind support from several sources, including the anti-establishment conservative group Citizens’ Alliance of Pennsylvania, that totaled more than $175,000. He finished fewer than 700 votes behind Cutler.

102nd Legislative District

Incumbent state Rep. Russ Diamond defeated a conservative Republican challenger backed by a regular target of Diamond’s criticism. Diamond won 65% of the vote in his Lebanon County district and will likely cruise to a sixth term without a Democratic opponent in November. 

Rachel Moyer, the vice president of Eastern Lebanon County School Board, announced in November that she was challenging Diamond with the “full support” of Mastriano, whose runs for governor and U.S. Senate Diamond publicly opposed. 

103rd Legislative District

Rep. Patty Kim’s run to flip the state Senate seat left open by Republican Sen. John DiSanto’s retirement drew five Democrats vying for the nomination to replace Kim.

Nathan Davidson, a former director of the Pennsylvania House Democratic Campaign Committee, won with a comfortable lead of 30% of the vote compared to 23% for his nearest competitor Mercedes Evans, a Camp Hill borough councilmember and community advocate. 

Davidson will face Cynthia Ward, an East Pennsboro Area School board member, in November.

117th Legislative District

Republican state Rep. Mike Cabell trailed primary challenger Jamie Walsh by only eight votes on Wednesday. 

The Associated Press declared the race too close to call and Cabell, who is seeking a second term representing his Luzerne County district, said he would wait for official results before conceding. 

Walsh is a co-founder and president of Citizens Advisory of Pennsylvania, which his campaign website describes as an organization that helps parents fight for rights and address issues in school districts across the state.

136th Legislative District 

Rep. Robert Freeman (D-Northampton) will continue his streak as the longest serving member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives after his victory Tuesday. 

Freeman defeated Easton City Councilmember Taiba Sultana with 78% of the vote in his first primary challenge since first winning his seat in 1982. Freeman, who has only been out of office for four years after an unsuccessful run for state Senate in 1994, has no Republican opponent.

139th Legislative District

Republican Jeffrey Olsommer defeated Democrat Robin Skibber, the recently retired director of the Pike County Area Agency on Aging in a special election to replace Rep. Joe Adams, who resigned for health reasons in January.

The November election for the 139th District in Pike and Wayne will be a rematch after Olsommer, chairman of the Sterling Township board of supervisors, defeated Matthew Contreras, a staffing firm owner.

172nd Legislative District

Sean Dougherty, the nephew of former Philadelphia labor leader John Dougherty, was recruited to challenge Democratic state Rep. Kevin Boyle when the incumbent’s mental health challenges became public in February.

Dougherty won 73% of the vote on Tuesday and will go on to face Republican Aziz Gill, a civic leader in the northeast Philadelphia district. Gill defeated Army veteran Patrick Gushue with 65% of the vote.

181st Legislative District

Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta defeated Democratic challengers Lewis Nash Sr. and Jamillah Griffin to secure a fourth term in his north Philadelphia district. Kenyatta, however, has his sights set on higher office; he also won the Democratic primary for auditor general.

If Kenyatta defeats incumbent Republican Auditor General Timothy DeFoor in November, it will leave House Democrats with an empty seat at the start of the next session and set the stage for a special election early next year.

199th Legislative District

Rep. Roni Green (D-Philadelphia) won a second full term in the 199th District, defeating challenger James Jackson, who ran against Green as an Independent in 2022. Green first won her seat in a 2020 special election but lost her bid for a full term in 2020 to Rep. Amen Brown. When the district was redrawn in 2022 and Brown ran in a different district, Green was reelected.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Pennsylvania Capital-Star under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.