By Alex Roarty
PoliticsPA Staff Writer
An Allegheny County man has apparently earned enough signatures to be placed on U.S. Senate Democratic primary ballot, according to an unofficial list provided Tuesday by the Department of State, potentially adding a wrinkle to the heated contest between incumbent Arlen Specter and challenger Joe Sestak.
Joseph Vodvarka, a self-described manufacturer and small business owner, received the 2,000 signatures necessary to be placed on the May 18 primary ballot. His candidacy thus far has gone almost entirely unnoticed by the media and he was not nominated at February’s state Democratic Party endorsement meeting.
Although Vodvarka’s campaign will have far fewer resources than Sestak and Specter and will likely receive little attention from the media, his western Pennsylvania roots could be significant. Voters from the region have historically supported candidates from the same area, and Vodvarka’s two opponents are each from the southeast.
In a race that could be extremely close, any votes he siphons from either Specter or Sestak might prove critical.
The businessman portrayed himself as a conservative Democrat on his campaign Web site, supporting Republican health care proposals while also calling for fair trade agreements with competing countries. A member of the NRA for 36 years, Vodvarka appears to be positioning himself as a grassroots candidate who represents the common man because, as he put it on his Web site, “I am the common man.”