Five-term Senator Rich Kasunic (D-Fayette) announced his retirement, intensifying a battle for the southwestern Pa. seat.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to represent the fine people of our area over the past three-plus decades,” Kasunic said in a statement. “This decision was honestly not an easy one, but after much soul-searching I decided that, it is time to devote myself to spending quality time with my friends, and more importantly, my family, in this next chapter of my life.”
Kasunic served 12 years in the House before moving to the Senate in 1994.
Democrats made big gains in the State Senate in 2012, but Republicans are hoping to push back in 2014. SD-32 is the single most conservative district represented by a Democrat and was among the GOP’s best opportunities even before Kasunic’s announcement.
The district comprises Fayette and Somerset counties plus a few precincts in Westmoreland.
Republican Pat Stefano, a local small businessman and community leader, formally announced his intention to seek run early last month – with the support of Republicans locally and in Harrisburg.
In a statement, he wished Kasunic well.
“I would like to commend Senator Rich Kasunic for his more than thirty years of service to local residents at both the county and state levels of government,” Stefano said. “I wish him and his family well in their new endeavors.”
Before Kasunic’s retirement, it was the most conservative seat held by a Democrat. Romney won the southwestern Pa. district 60% to 40% in 2012, while Tom Smith outpaced Bob Casey 55% to 45%. Kathleen Kane won 54% to 46%.
GOP chatter indicates the party is planning to spend $750,000 to $1 million in the 32nd.
The Democrats do not have a clear choice for their nominee. State Rep. Tim Mahoney of Uniontown is a prominent local figure, but he has not indicated an interest in seeking a seat in the Senate.
Lauren Mahoney Yohman, a businesswoman who previously worked for the AFL-CIO, is another potential recruit. She is Mahoney’s daughter.
“We’re talking to some very strong candidates in the district and will be announcing soon,” SDCC Political Director Anne Wakabayashi told PoliticsPA.
Kasunic is the sixth Senator to announce retirement this year.