Dems Find a Candidate for Orie Seat

Dr. Sharon Brown

Update: The SD-40 Dem conferees officially nominated Brown Thursday night.

“I am honored to have the endorsement of the Allegheny & Butler County Democratic Committees. I look forward to working with them to ensure the residents of the 40th district have a senator who works hard to ensure our children have a good education, our economy is vibrant, and our most vulnerable citizens are represented,” said Brown.

You can read a list of nice quotes from Dem elected officials at the bottom of this post.

Dr. Sharon Brown will take on the Republican nominee for the seat of ex-Senator Jane Orie, a Democratic source confirms.

Brown is an epidemiologist from Wexford who runs her own consulting firm, Brown Consulting & Research, LLC. She is also a local Democratic committeewoman who in 2010 challenged Rep. Mike Turzai but took just 22.8 percent of the vote.

Democratic party leaders meet tonight to officially choose their nominee. The special election is set for August 7.

Republicans are all but certain to nominate former PA Senator and former U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart on June 16.

The video above is Brown talking about problems with the redistricting process which, in all likelihood, will move the seat she’s campaigning to fill from western PA to Monroe County in time for the 2014 election.

Dan DeMarco, who challenged Orie in 2010, had been the presumed nominee. But he declined to run, apparently not inclined to make his third bid for the seat just to have it disappear after redistricting. As late as this morning, it was unclear whether the party would have a candidate at all.

The district has been reliably Republican for a number of cycles, but it isn’t impossible for a Dem. According to Labels and Lists, registration in SD-40 is 46.4 percent Republican and 42 percent Democratic. In a year when Senate Dems have a number of realistic pickup opportunities, it’s unclear what kind of resources they will devote to this uphill battle.

Fun side note: one source suggested that at least one high-ranking Democratic official contacted Rep. Jason Altmire to see if he’d be interested in running for the seat. Altmire, who lost a close primary to Rep. Mark Critz in April, defeated Hart for Congress in 2006.

From the Allegheny Dems press release about Brown:

Senator Daylin Leach, Chair of the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee:

“We are thrilled that Dr. Sharon Brown has decided to run in the special election to replace Senator Orie. At a time when more and more Pennsylvanian’s are fed up with the failed policies of the Republicans in Harrisburg, Dr. Brown will bring a fresh set of ideas to the campaign, and to the Senate.”

Senator and Democratic Leader Jay Costa:

“Dr. Sharon Brown will be a terrific addition to the State Senate, bringing her lifetime of community service as a nurse and educator to the job of representing the people based on clear western Pennsylvania moral values. She has my strong support in her campaign, and when she joins me in Harrisburg.”

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald:

“We appreciate the commitment of Dr. Brown to step up and be willing to serve the 40th Senatorial District. Her background is sorely needed in Harrisburg.”

US Representative Jason Altmire:

“Dr. Sharon Brown is a smart, hard-working woman who knows how to get things done. She will run a top-notch campaign and will make a great State Senator for the 40th District.”

US Representative Mark Critz:

“Sharon Brown is a great candidate. As a businesswoman, she knows first-hand what our local small and large businesses need, as nurse and educator; she knows what our families need. I am very excited to help her win this special election, and to serve our mutual constituents together.”

State Representative Rob Matzie:

“Dr. Brown is uniquely qualified to run for public office and is an outstanding candidate.”

State Representative Dom Costa:

“Sharon Brown is exactly the right person to restore ethical behavior and principled leadership to this district. I intend to do everything I can to help her get elected, and I look forward to working with her when she comes to Harrisburg as our senator.”

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