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Incumbents Mensch, Boscola, Browne coast

Three Lehigh Valley state senators lead by wide margins.

By Matt Assad, OF THE MORNING CALL

November 3, 2010

Incumbency may have been a drag on candidates across the country, but it didn’t stop three state senators from the Lehigh Valley from keeping their jobs Tuesday.

Bob Mensch, R-24th District, easily defeated Democrat challenger Bill Wallace, by 60 percent to 40 percent, with 98 percent of the precincts reporting.

Meanwhile, longtime senators Lisa Boscola, D-18th and Pat Browne, R-16th had no trouble extending their careers in the Pennsylvania Senate.

The win was particularly sweet for Mensch who, unlike his two colleagues, has only been representing Lehigh Valley residents since winning a special election last year.

“I’m a business guy so I viewed myself as a brand that had to be sold to the voters,” said Mensch, a former 28-year marketing and sales representative for AT&T. “Obviously, we we’re successful in convincing people that I can make a difference in Harrisburg.”

Mensch, 65, of Pennsburg, Montgomery County, was a two-term state House member known by few people in the Lehigh Valley when he won a special election in 2009 to fill the seat of Robert C. Wonderling, who left to head the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

Mensch’s 24th District Senate seat includes parts of Bucks, Lehigh, Montgomery and Northampton counties. Mensch campaigned on reining in state spending and reducing corporate taxes to make Pennsylvania a more attractive location for new business.

And despite most of his voting base being in Montgomery County, he did much of that campaigning in the Valley.

“He recognized that he isn’t as well known in the Lehigh Valley, so he put a special focus there,” Mensch campaign spokesman Pete Peterson said. “I think he made 16 trips to the Easton area in October alone.”

Boscola and Browne had equally successful nights. Boscola, a 48-year-old Democrat from Bethlehem Township, outpolled Republican Matt Connolly, 45, of Bethlehem Township by a margin of 61-39, with 99 of the vote in, according to unofficial results. It was perhaps a predictable outcome: Boscola had a campaign war chest of $241,806 compared with the $3,372 raised by Connolly, according to the most recent campaign expense reports filed by the candidates.

Browne, 46, of Allentown, defeated Democrat challenger Richard Orloski, a 63-year-old attorney from South Whitehall Township, 61-39, with 100 percent of the precincts reported, according to unofficial results. As most of the early returns came in from Democrat-heavy Allentown, Orloski led by as many as 700 votes, but as more returns arrived, that lead evaporated quickly. By the end of the night, Orloski was sitting on the wrong side of a nearly 17,000 vote deficit.

After nine previous unsuccessful races for everything from state attorney general to Congress to state Senate, Orloski took his latest loss in stride.

“Hey, I haven’t lost every election I was in,” Orloski said. “I was a Pennsylvania delegate for Gary Hart in 1984.”

matthew.assad@mcall.com

610-820-6691

Copyright © 2010, The Morning Call

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