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Decisive win puts Blake in Mellow’s 22nd District seat

BY LIBBY NELSON (STAFF WRITER)

Democrat John Blake won a decisive victory over Republican Frank Scavo in the race for the state Senate seat belonging to retiring Sen. Robert Mellow on Tuesday, keeping the seat in Democratic hands amid a wave of Republican victories.

According to unofficial results, Mr. Blake, the former acting secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development, won 63 percent of the vote in the race for the 22nd District Senate seat. Mr. Scavo, the former president of the Old Forge School Board and a district manager at Keystone Automotive, had 37 percent.

As he claimed victory shortly after 10 p.m. Tuesday, Mr. Blake said he had a “deep and abiding love for public life.”

“You’ve given me an opportunity to live a dream: to become your next senator,” he told about 200 supporters at the Radisson at Lackawanna Station hotel. “We’re not just here to make a living; we’re here to make living good for all of us.”

He acknowledged the long career of Mr. Mellow, who held the seat for 40 years, saying he made the community a better place.

“But now we turn the page,” he said. “We unite behind new leadership.”

Mr. Blake had been considered the favorite to win the race. The district comprises Lackawanna County; the boroughs of Avoca, Dupont and Duryea in Luzerne County; and Mount Pocono and the townships of Barrett, Coolbaugh and Paradise in Monroe County. Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-to-1 margin.

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Mr. Scavo had hoped to ride anti-incumbent sentiment to victory in an election that favored Republicans in Northeast Pennsylvania and across the country. He fell short of that goal, and votes broke along party lines in many precincts, with Mr. Blake winning most of the registered Democrats while Mr. Scavo claimed Republicans and voters with no party affiliation.

At a small gathering of family and supporters at Arcaro and Genell in Old Forge, he portrayed his campaign as scrappy, underfunded insurgents taking on what he called “the political machine.”

He told supporters he won a higher percent of the vote this year than he did in 2002, when he opposed Mr. Mellow’s re-election bid. In part, he said, because of a lack of support from the state Republican committee this year, they ran the campaign cheaply, spending about 25 cents per vote.

Pledging to hold Mr. Blake accountable to his campaign promises, he also appeared to declare his candidacy for the next state Senate election.

“I’m sure in 2014, the people will be ready to give it another go,” he said.

Each candidate spoke warmly of his opponent.

“We ran a great race together, and I think we have a bond,” Mr. Scavo told Mr. Blake when he called to congratulate him.

For his part, Mr. Blake, who has never held elected office, acknowledged that he had a lot to learn.

“If people ask, ‘You know how to do the job?’ you say yes,” he said. “And then you figure out how to do it.”

Contact the writer: lnelson@timesshamrock.com

22ND STATE SENATE

John Blake (D)……………49,047

Frank Scavo (R)………….29,128

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