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PA House Primary Preview: Northwest

The countdown is underway to the 2024 Pennsylvania presidential primary.

Even though the presidential candidates for the Republican and Democratic parties have been decided, there are still plenty of important primary races taking place around the Commonwealth.

In the first of our series, today PoliticsPA will take a look at two races in the northwestern portion of the state.

Butler County

11th State House District
Marci Mustello (R) vs. Ryan Covert (R).

Rep. Marci Mustello
Rep. Marci Mustello

Mustello, the incumbent, first took office after a special election in May 2019 to fill the remainder of the 2019 term left vacant by the resignation of state Rep. Brian Ellis. Her focus has been on election integrity, including voter ID; revitalizing the economy by supporting job creators; protecting the 2nd Amendment and the sanctity of life as a pro-life candidate; stopping governmental overreach and lowering property taxes.

  • Party: Republican
  • Residence: Butler Township
  • House Committee Assignments: Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee; Appropriations Committee (subcommittee chair on education); Gaming Oversight Committee.
  • Last Election: Ran unopposed in 2022 general election. Defeated Jennifer Steele, 75-25%, in GOP primary.
  • Experience: State representative, (2019-present); staffer in U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly’s Butler County office (2011-2019); president, Butler County Humane Society.
  • Education: attended Butler County Community College, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania and Grove City College
  • LinksWebsite | Facebook | Twitter
  • Fundraising (as of 12/31/2023)
    • Raised: $32,275 | Spent: $9,192.83 | Cash on Hand: $61,508.36


Ryan Covert
Ryan Covert

Covert is looking forward to a rematch after he previously ran an unsuccessful Republican bid against the incumbent Mustello in 2020, falling 54-46%.

He also pursued the GOP nomination for Butler County commissioner in 2023, finishing third in a race for two seats. Covert says he wants to bring his America First principles and his practical real life experience as a small business owner and a farmer to Harrisburg. He says he is pro-life and a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment.

  • Party: Republican
  • Residence: Oakland Township
  • Last Election: Covert finished third in a race for two seats in the 2023 GOP primary for Butler County Commissioner.
  • Experience: Owner of Snack ‘N Pack and Butler Hot Dog Shoppe in Butler; Professional boxer.
  • Quotable. “I’m not a politician. I don’t really want to be a politician. I just want to serve the people like I have been for the last 20 years.”
  • LinksWebsite | Facebook | Twitter
  • Campaign Announcement. Butler Eagle (2/1/2024)
  • Fundraising (as of 3/4/2024)
    • Raised: $20,600 | Spent: $10,678 | Cash on Hand: $9,921.13


District Composition. Part of BUTLER County consisting of the CITY of Butler and the TOWNSHIPS of Buffalo, Butler, Clearfield, Clinton, Donegal, Jefferson, Oakland, Summit and Winfield and the BOROUGHS of Chicora, East Butler and Saxonburg.


Armstrong and Clarion County

63rd State House District (Armstrong and Clarion County)
Josh Bashline (R), Clay Kennemuth (R), Lisa Kerle (R), Darlene Smail (R)
Watch. Candidate Forum (3/29/2024)

Bashline, Josh
Josh Bashline

Bashline, a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard, has served as a district manager for Rep. Parke Wentling. He says he is a pro-life, pro-Second Amendment rights, pro-farmer, and pro-law enforcement. Bashline wants to be a strong advocate for the natural resource industries such as natural gas and coal.

  • Party: Republican
  • Residence: Clarion Township
  • Experience: Member, PA National Guard. District Manager for Rep. Parke Wentling. Vice chair Clarion County Republican Committee. Field organizer for former President Donald Trump.
  • Education. Edinboro University.
  • Quotable. “I believe that my military service, my professional work experience, service to my community, and most importantly, my values, all align with the residents of the 63rd Legislative District.”
  • Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter
  • Campaign Announcement: DuBois Courier Express (1/5/24)
  • Fundraising. No filings.


Clay Kennemuth
Clay Kennemuth

Kennemuth, a firefighter, paramedic and nurse, says there are many issues that affect rural Pennsylvanians, particularly in his district. He says he believes in fiscal responsibility, small government, and personal freedom. Other top priorities include supporting small businesses, small farmers, and oil and gas companies.

  • Party. Republican
  • Residence. Mayport
  • Experience. Registered Nurse. Supervisor, Penn Highlands Healthcare
  • Education. A.A. PennWest Clarion.
  • Quotable. “As a paramedic, nurse and firefighter, I get a first-hand look in to people’s lives. I have dedicated my life to public service and would like to continue that as your state representative.”
  • Links. Website | Facebook | Twitter
  • Campaign Announcement: Indiana Gazette (1/10/2024)
  • Fundraising. No filings


Lisa Kerle

Kerle has served as a New Bethlehem Borough councilor and president. She said her top priorities will include fiscal responsibility and supporting efforts to reduce frivolous spending in order to keep more money in taxpayers’ pockets. Other priorities include economic development that supports small businesses and helping the aging population in her district and across rural Pennsylvania by funding services for the elderly. As a permit holder, Kerle supports concealed-carry and said she would protect the Second Amendment.

  • Party. Republican
  • Residence. New Bethlehem
  • Experience. New Bethlehem Borough Council president. Constituent outreach specialist for Rep. Donna Oberlander. Director, Southern Clarion County Regional Police Department.
  • Education. Penn West Clarion (B.A.), Liberty University (M.A.)
  • Quotable. “Pennsylvanians want to get to work, and businesses want to start new projects but often are stymied by government red tape, permit requirements, and our tax structure.”
  • Links. Website | Facebook | Twitter
  • Campaign Announcement: DuBois Courier Express (1/2/2024)
  • Fundraising. No filings


Darlene Smail
Darlene Smail

Smail, a former Pennsylvania State Trooper, describes herself as “an ‘America First’ fiscal and conservative Constitutional Republican.” Her campaign says one of her top priorities is bringing growth to the 63rd District by removing unnecessary barriers to small business growth and removing bureaucratic barriers to municipality operations. A strong supporter of educational choice, she would like to align high school vocational skills and adult education to area business development. Smail also plans to address voter integrity concerns within the state to include vigorously supporting a constitutional amendment for statewide voter ID.

  • Party. Republican
  • Residence. Kittanning Township
  • Experience. Former PA State Trooper. Retired, U.S. Marine Corps. Chair, Armstrong County Republican Committee.
  • Education.
  • Quotable. “I also understand that many residents of Armstrong and Clarion Counties feel that their voice is not heard in Harrisburg. I will take your voice to Harrisburg. And I will stand strong for your values.”
  • Links. Website | Facebook | Twitter
  • Campaign Announcement: Punxsutawney Spirit (1/12/2024)
  • Fundraising. (as of 3/4/2024)
    Raised: $300 | Spent: $0 | Cash on Hand: $300


District Composition. Part of ARMSTRONG County consisting of the CITY of Parker City and the TOWNSHIPS of Boggs, Bradys Bend, Cowanshannock, Hovey, Kittanning, Madison, Mahoning, Perry, Pine, Plumcreek, Rayburn, Redbank, Sugarcreek, Valley, Washington, Wayne and West Franklin and the BOROUGHS of Atwood, Dayton, Elderton, Kittanning, Rural Valley, South Bethlehem and Worthington and All of CLARION County.

2 Responses

    1. Notice the key buzz words in use. These people are nuts and so are any voters that fall for this nonsense.

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