Dems, GOP Fight to Near-Draw in State House
After months of campaigning, it appeared Tuesday night that at least 2 but no more than 5 state House seats would switch party control.
Three straight cycles of wave-sized changes in the state House came to an end with 3 races still pending.
Counting vacancies and other absences, the GOP had a 111 to 92 majority. When the dust settles, it looks like they’ll lead at least 110 to 93 with the possibility of leading 108 to 95 if everything breaks for Democrats.
Democrats heavy push in southeast Pa. has mixed success but mostly failed, as did strong Republican efforts to capitalize on western Pa. voter discontent with President Obama an oust several Democratic incumbents. Dems didn’t lose a single incumbent up for re-election.
A quick reminder: there are no automatic recounts for legislative elections, but parties can request them on a precinct-by-precinct basis. It requires 3 voters in each precinct(s) to file the request to their county board of elections at a cost of $50 per precinct. The process is not common, but not unheard of.
Counties will finalize their vote tallies by Nov. 13. Parties then have 5 days to file a recount request.
state law triggers an automatic recount for any election whose result is within 0.5 percent – unless the candidate running behind cares to concede.
Click here for a full tally of all competitive and semi-competitive races. These are the seats that already have – or might still – switch party control:
Republicans picked up the seat of retiring Rep. Bud George (D-Clearfield) with Tom Sankey, a businessman. He defeated Clearfield County Commissioner Mark McCracken. This was an example of the the top of the ticket – President Obama – sinking a western Pa. Dem.
Democrats appeared to have knocked off Rep. Tom Quigley (R-Montco) by 356 votes. Challenger Mark Painter took 50.9 percent to Quigley’s 49.1. The Republican reportedly conceded – though a spokesman for the House Republican Campaign Committee said there may be absentee and provisional ballots outstanding.
Democrat Dave Levdansky, who lost a close race to Rick Saccone in 2010, was ahead in his bid for a comeback Tuesday night. At 2:00a.m., he lead Rep. Saccone (R-Allegheny) by 64 votes out of nearly 29,000 cast (0.24 percent). Some absentee and provisional ballots may be outstanding, but Ethan Smith of the House Democratic Campaign Committee said Levdansky was ahead with all votes accounted for.
Update: according to the Allegheny County Board of Elections website, with 48 of 48 precincts in Levdansky is ahead by 340 votes, 1.52 percent, 11,388 votes to 11,048. In the Washington County part of the district, Saccone lead by 6 percent, 3,226 votes to 2,850. The final tally, then, is Saccone 14,274, Levdansky 14,238. 50.06 percent to 49.94 percent
The Allegheny Co. office is closed today, but someone who answered the phones said the provision ballot picture won’t be clear until the end of the week and results not certified until next week.
With every precinct reporting, State Rep. Justin Simmons (R-Lehigh) leads Dem challenger and teacher Kevin Deely by 562 votes. That’s likely to shrink as there are a significant number of provisional ballots from the Allentown portion of the district where Deely performed strongly. It’s unlikely that that will be enough to turn the race, but it may be enough to put it into recount territory. Out of nearly 28,000 votes cast, Simmons is ahead by 2 percent – 51 to 49.
Update: Tim Benyo, the Lehigh County Chief Clerk, says there are about 500 military ballots, 200-300 provisional ballots, and about 10 emergency responder ballots out county-wide. “It’s gonna be close,” he said, asked about a possible recount. “The Department of State is already asking” about outsanding ballots.
Rep. Nick Micozzie (R-Delaware) lead by a thin, 119 vote margin according to Delaware County, with a few of the County’s precincts reporting (12,871 to 12,752). A GOP source on the ground says the final tally is 358 votes in the Republican’s favor and the race is over. Dems aren’t confident in this pickup, but are waiting to see provisional ballots. They say Bonner ran the best field operation in Pa. and was boosted by Obama’s performance.
*Correction: an earlier version of this story indicated that any vote total within 0.5 percent would trigger an automatic recount. That rule only applies to statewide races.