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Fun With Maps III: How McClelland Pulled Off The Upset

Of all the results from last Tuesday night’s primary election, the biggest surprise may have come in the Democratic race for State Treasurer.

Allegheny County’s Erin McClelland defeated Erie County state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro to advance to the general election ballot opposite GOP incumbent Stacy Garrity.

McClelland received 54.24 percent of the unofficial vote total tally (544,296) for an eight-point win against Bizzarro, the state party’s endorsed candidate, who received 45.76 percent (459.135).

The treasurer holds a low-profile state row office position, but has a lot of power over the state’s investments and makes sure the state’s bills are paid.

So how did she do it?

It appears to have been a combination of her county, her name and her gender.

“A female with Allegheny County next to her name on the ballot in these lower-profile statewide races, geography matters a lot. That right there put her in the ball game,” said Mike Mikus, a Democratic consultant in Pittsburgh told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Still, Bizzarro is a member of House Democratic leadership as policy chair. He also raised more than $500,000, while his opponent raised five times less than that. Bizzarro spent nearly $250K on the campaign – McClelland about $14K.

“I imagine, in hindsight, the strategy of relying on [the Democratic party’s endorsement] to carry him to victory does not seem to be the right one,” Democratic strategist J.J. Balaban said. “Some candidates make it their peril in confusing elites with voters.

It’s unfair to an accomplished state representative, but the value of being an accomplished state representative is only if people know you are an accomplished state representative,” he added. ”When you put it as ‘A woman of Irish descent from Allegheny County versus a man with an odd-sounding last name from Erie County,’ it doesn’t sound so strange.”

PoliticsPA put together an interactive map, showing you how McClelland and Bizzarro both did in the Commonwealth’s 67 counties – 53 of which were captured by the Allegheny County resident.

2 Responses

  1. She won by 85,000 votes which is the same margin she won by in Allegheny and neighboring Westmoreland counties. Her name had nothing to do with it. 90% demographic. 10% gender.


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