Top Ten Local Races to Watch this Tuesday
Well, we’ve got you covered. We’re breaking down the top ten state Senate and House primary contests that you should keep an eye on come Tuesday night (in numerical order).
SD-4: Sen. Leanna Washington vs. Brian Gralnick vs. Art Haywood
Sen. Washington, who has represented the district since 2005, should’ve coasted to easy re-election in her district, which covers parts of Montgomery County and Philadelphia. Then, she was charged by the Attorney General for improperly using her staff to work on a birthday party for herself. Since then, Brian Gralnick has emerged as a major challenger, winning the endorsement of NOW, Americans for Democratic Action and the Ward 9 Democratic Committee of Philadelphia. Art Haywood, though he has scored less traction, is also running in the Democratic primary. Will voters stick with Washington through troubled times or will the allegations of corruption cost the Senator her seat?
SD-36: Rep. Ryan Aument vs. Rep. Gordon Denlinger
This seat opened up after the retirement of Sen. Mike Brubaker, setting up a contest between two State Reps. both looking to move on up to the upper house. In January, Aument won a straw poll among GOP committee members then won the party’s endorsement in February. Nonetheless, Denlinger is staying in the race and is seeking an upset.
SD-50: Rep. Michele Brooks vs. Rep. Greg Lucas vs. Jane MacPherson
Another case of an incumbent, Sen. Bob Robbins, retiring and opening up a solid Republican seat. State Reps. Brooks and Lucas are competing for a promotion while businesswoman MacPherson has also thrown her hat in the ring. The victor will face Democrat Michael Muha in the fall, but will likely prevail in the deep red seat.
HD-20: Rep. Adam Ravenstahl vs. Tom Michalow
State Rep. Adam Ravenstahl is facing a primary challenge from his left in the form of schoolteacher Tom Michalow. Michalow is a progressive ally of Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. As a result, the contest has become a proxy battle between the old and new guards of the Democratic party in Pittsburgh.
HD-36: Rep. Harry Readshaw vs. Rep. Erin Molchany
Thanks to redistricting, two Democratic State Reps. are forced to compete against one another for survival. Arguably the most high-profile local race, the candidates have traded TV ads back and forth. Most of the new district contains parts of Readshaw’s old district yet Molchany has the advantage of being the fresh face and the support of Mayor Peduto. Politicos statewide will be watching this one on Tuesday night.
HD-46: Rep. Jesse White vs. Thomas Casciola
Last summer, Rep. White was publicly humiliated when it was reported that he was anonymously attacking his constituents over the internet. Now he is facing a challenger in Cecil supervisor Thomas Casciola. Will White be forgiven by the voters or will his political career be sunk?
HD-74: Josh Maxwell vs. Josh Young
Another case of redistricting brings us a Democratic primary that will likely decide the race. In the battle of the Joshs, Downingtown Mayor Josh Maxwell faces off against Caln Township Supervisor Josh Young. The two young guns have split up party and union endorsements, making for an entertaining and potentially close race.
HD-112: Rep. Frank Farina vs. Rep. Kevin Haggerty
Once more redistricting pits two State Reps. against each other. 49% of the registered Democrats in the newly drawn 112th lived in Haggerty’s district while 43% lived in Farina’s, meaning this could be a very close contest. Haggerty, however, had a rather infamous gaffe in the form of a rambling Facebook post that criticized President Obama. That may hurt him in the Democratic primary.
HD-164: Rep. Margo Davidson vs. Billy Smith vs. Dafan Zhang
Now we come to arguably the most anticipated and contentious primary, the Democratic race for House District 164. Incumbent Rep. Margo Davidson made headlines, and progressive enemies, with her votes on abortion and school vouchers. Since then defense attorney Billy Smith and IT professional and immigrated citizen from China Dafan Zhang have jumped into the race. A PoliticsPA reader poll from January found that 57% of respondents believe Democrats should nominate Smith.
HD-193: Rep. Will Tallman vs. Brian Gembusia
Finally, there is the contest for the GOP nomination between incumbent State Rep. Will Tallman and South Middleton Township Commissioner Brian Gembusia. The two men have met for several debates and have tried to prove their conservative bona fides to the conservative electorate. Just this week, Gembusia released an ad on property taxes. A straw poll by the done by a conservative York County PAC found Tallman in the lead but it did not survey the whole district.