The decision over whether to call for a special election in the 37th district for the seat of retired Sen John Pippy has officially been made, with Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley deciding against it.
“After consultations with Governor Corbett and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, I have decided against having a special election prior to the general election,” Cawley said in a press release.
“When considering all the factors: the logistics of holding an election and certifying the results, the limited number of session days and since the voters will be casting their ballots in just a few weeks, the cost to taxpayers does not justify holding a special election.”
Immediately following Sen. Pippy’s resignation, which happened after the signing of next year’s budget, questions arose as to whether the Lieutenant Governor would call for a special election in the 37th district to replace him. The soonest such a special could have taken place would have been September 4, only two months before E-Day.
Behind-the-scenes discussion went on for days, with state GOP leaders weighing their options between having a race sooner, would have undoubtedly benefited Raja (for whom time and money was not a factor), and going against their party’s platform of fiscal responsibility by spending an exorbitant amount of taxpayer dollars for a win.
The special would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to hold, which meant that it would have cost the equivalent of paying $25,000 and $50,000 each day for the winner to attend the eight Senate session days that would he held before the November elections.
Today Gov. Corbett met with Republican Party leaders and candidates in Pittsburgh. It was known among western PA GOP insiders that neither Corbett nor Cawley wanted to hold the special, whereas Raja did.
However, once they made it clear that no special would be held, they gave the candidate time to go on the record as requesting the election be held during the general. And indeed Raja did release a statement this morning, saying that it would not make sense fiscally to hold a special election.
“I ask Lt. Governor Cawley to please not have a special election for this seat. The taxpayers can ill afford another election for just a few months of time,” said Raja.
The decision is also a win for Senate Minority leader Jay Costa, who lobbied Cawley last week to decide against a special election.
“Holding an election a month or so before a regular election at a significant cost to the taxpayer is not ‘in the public interest,’” Costa said in a letter, adding that a regularly scheduled election – the general election – would be held within a few weeks at no extra cost.
The Democratic candidate for the seat has yet to be named. Greg Parks, who won a write-in campaign, has dropped out of the race, and will presumably be replaced by Rep. Matt Smith (D-Allegheny).
PoliticsPA readers recently polled picked the 37th district contest as this cycle’s top race.