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Republicans Romp to Pick Up 8 House Seats

Dave Reed
Rep. Dave Reed (R-Indiana) led the HRCC. He is frequently mentioned as a likely choice for Majority Leader.

PA House Republicans will begin 2015 with a dominant 35 seat majority. The party picked up 8 seats Tuesday night, defeating three incumbents and winning five open seats that had been held by Democrats.

The GOP will have 119 seats next year to Democrats’ 84.

No Republican incumbent lost a bid for re-election except state Rep. Mike Fleck, who lost the GOP primary and was running on the Democratic ticket (although he pledged to caucus with the GOP if elected).

Here is a brief rundown of the GOP’s pickups. Look below for more information – including vote totals – about these and other competitive races.

PA House Republicans will begin 2015 with a dominant 35 seat majority. The party picked up 8 seats Tuesday night, defeating three incumbents and winning five open seats that had been held by Democrats.

The GOP will have 119 seats next year to Democrats’ 84.

No Republican incumbent lost a bid for re-election except state Rep. Mike Fleck, who lost the GOP primary and was running on the Democratic ticket (although he pledged to caucus with the GOP if elected).

Here is a brief rundown of the GOP’s pickups. Look below for more information – including vote totals – about these and other competitive races.

Ousted incumbents

HD-46: Jason Ortitay ousted scandal-plagues Rep. Jesse White (D) in this Washington County district.

HD-83: Lycoming County Commissioner Jeff Wheeland ousted three-term Rep. Rick Mirabito (D-Lycoming).

HD-146: In a rematch, former Rep. Tom Quigley ousted Rep. Mark Painter, the man who beat him in 2012 in the Montgomery County district.

Flipped open seats

HD-52: Ryan Warner beat A.J. Boni for this open seat. Incumbent state Rep. Deb Kula (D-Fayette) vacated the seat in an unsuccessful bid for state Senate.

HD-74: Harry Lewis won a newly drawn left-leaning seat which had been intended to consolidate Chester County’s Democrats. It replaced a Democratic seat in Cambria County.

HD-115: David Parker won this new Monroe County seat which was created when two Democrats were drawn into the same district.

HD-120: Aaron Kaufer picked up the open seat of retiring Rep. Phyllis Mundy (D-Luzerne).

HD-169: Kate Klunk was unopposed for this seat, which was moved from Philadelphia to York County during redistricting.


Here are more details about the outcome of each race from PolititcsPA’s election night live thread:

HD-5 – Jozwiak defeats Sheeler

Republican Barry Jozwiak beat Democrat Frederick Sheeler for the Berks area seat. With 100% of precincts reporting, Jozwiak defeated Democrat Frederick Sheeler by 26 points, 63%to 37%

This seat was newly drawn in Berks County during redistricting. It was moved from northwestern PA where the incumbent is a Republican. The new district is drawn to favor Republicans.

Democrat Frederick Sheeler, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, faces Republican Barry Jozwiak, who beat Josh Rudderow III and Kenneth Norton in his party’s primary.

HD-12: Metcalf fends off Zucco

Republican incumbent Daryl Metcalfe, the representative since 1999 and chairman of the House State Government Committee easily fended off a challenge from Democrat Lisa Zucco, who ran unopposed in the Democratic Primary. Metcalfe fended off a write-in challenge in the spring and Zucco who was hoping to pick up dissatisfied Republicans.

Zucco of Cranberry Township, ran on the platform of taxes for the fracking industry as well as increases in funding for public education and infrastructure.

With 14 of 22 precincts reporting, Metcalfe sailed to victory over Zucco 61% to 39% by a margin of roughly 900 votes.

HD-33: 13th Term for Dermody

Democratic Minority Leader Frank Dermody won his 13th consecutive term by defeating Republican challenger Sean Watson.

With 59 out of 61 precincts reporting, Dermody fought off a tough challenge from Watson, winning 53% to 47%, with a margin of 900 votes.

Dermody ran unopposed in the primary while Watson, 34, ran unopposed in the republican primary after then opponent Gretchen Justine Schmitt withdrew in March.

The majority of the district is found in the north east corner of Allegheny County, and overlaps to a small part of Westmoreland County.

The district includes parts of Butler County including Cranberry, Evans and Jefferson Townships.

HD-39: Saccone wins tough re-election bid

2-term Republican Rep. Rick Saccone successfully defended his seat against Democratic challenger Lisa Stout-Bashioum, a Bentworth school board member.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review labelled the race as “one to watch,” as both candidates come from decidedly opposite ends of the spectrum.

Saccone touted his record fighting for his constituents saying “I have increased funding for schools while making it more difficult for them to raise property taxes,” Saccone said. “I will continue to champion school property tax elimination.”

With 48 of 51 Precincts reporting, Saccone cruised to victory 60% to 40%, with a margin of more than 4,000 votes

In reapportionment last year, the 39th became more GOP-friendly by losing Clairton despite the opposition of city officials. New Eagle and parts of South Park and Carroll were moved out as well. The current district includes parts of southern Allegheny County and Eastern Washington County.

HD-46: Ortitay knocks off White

Four-term incumbent Democratic Rep. Jesse White conceded to Republican challenger Jason Ortitay this evening.  With more than half the precincts reporting in Allegheny and Washington Counties, Ortitay maintained an advantage of 55% to White’s 44%.

The district includes parts of Washington and Allegheny Counties, including Oakdale and Buffalo Township.

HD-48: Neuman rebounds for house reelection

In a fight for the seat located in the heart of Washington County, 2-term Democratic incumbent Brandon Neuman won the reelection of his seat in the PA house after finishing a distant fifth in the primary race for Lt. Governor this past march.

His challenge came in the form of Republican North Strabane Township Supervisor Sonia Stopperich who got off to a stumbling start this election season.

With 33 of 42 precincts reporting, Neuman quickly ran off with the race, maintaining an advantage of 58% to 42% with a margin of roughly 1,500 votes.

Both went unopposed in their respective primaries.

HD-52 Warner picks up Kula’s seat

Long time Democratic Representative Deb Kula’s entry into the fiercely competitive SD-32 race left a tough battle for her seat. In the end, Republican candidate Ryan Warner defeated Democrat A.J. Boni, the current Perry Township.

With 33 of 35 precincts reported, Warner pulled off the victory over Boni 53% to 47%, with a margin of 900 votes.

Warner, a former project controller who lost his job a Seimens, used his blue-collar background to run a platform of promoting pennsylvania’s manufacturing industry, protecting second amendment rights and cutting unnecessary spending in Harrisburg.

The majority of the district is held in Fayette County, and overlaps to include a small part of Westmoreland County

HD-58: Harhai narrowly wins 9th term

In an extremely tight race, Democratic Incumbent R. Ted Harhai won his 9th term, fending off a challenge from Republican Thomas Logan. With all precincts reporting, Harhai narrowly defeated Logan 51% to 49%, with a margin of less than 300 votes.

Harhai, a former investment banker, has served the district since 1998.  Logan is the current supervisor of the Hempfield Township Board.

The district is found in the southwest corner of Westmoreland County

HD-74: Lewis upsets Maxwell

Republican Harry Lewis won in an upset and picked up a district that was intended to be a safe seat for Democrats. Lewis beat Democrat and Downingtown Mayor Josh Maxwell by 8 points, 54% to 46% with 100% of precincts reporting.

This seat was drawn to be blue during redistricting, with the aim of protecting suburban Republican incumbents by containing as many Chester County Democrats as possible within one district. It replaces a Democratic district in Cambria County.

HD-81: Irvin defeats Fleck (again)

Incumbent Rep. Mike Fleck is facing off against Republican challenger Richard Irvin. Fleck lost the Republican primary to Irvin, but won the Democratic primary.

With 74% of the precincts reporting, the district is ousting the incumbent. Irvin currently leads Fleck by 6%, 6,643 votes (53%) to 5,874 votes (47%). At around 10:14pm, Fleck conceded the race to Irvin.

The district includes all of Huntingdon County, as well as a small portion of southern Centre County and western Mifflin County.

HD-83: Wheeland Unseats Mirabito

Democrat Richard Mirabito, a three term incumbent, lost to Republican challenger Jeff Wheeland, the County Commissioner of Lycoming County.

With 97% of the precincts reporting, Wheeland won 8,105 votes (55%) and Mirabito trailed with 6,550 votes (45%).

HD-102: Russ Diamond wins 4-way contest

This is one of the craziest races of the night. Republican Russ Diamond faced off against Democrat Jake Long as well Independent Robert McAteer. The establishment GOP came out against Diamond and for McAteer. Wanda Bechtold, who lost to Diamond in the GOP primary, is also running a write-in effort.

With 83% of the precincts in, Russ Diamond has won the race with 6,020 votes. Jake Long is currently at 3,523 votes and Robert McAteer at 3,023 votes.

Located in Lebanon County, the seat was previously held by Republican RoseMarie Swanger, who chose not to run for re-election.

HD-104: Helm handles Stilp (again)

Incumbent Republican Susan Helm, who has served since 2006, defeated her Democratic challenger, Attorney Gene Stilp. Stilp came within a few hundred votes of ousting Helm in 2010.

With 91% of the precincts reporting, Helm has been re-elected. The vote tally currently stands at 8,709 (58%) for Helm and 6,284 (42%) for Stilp.

The district includes parts of northwestern Dauphin County and northwestern Lebanon County.

HD-115: Parker fights off tough challenge

In a close surprise, Republican David Parker defeated Democrat Maureen Madden by a little over 500 votes – 5,677 (52%) to 5,173 (48%).

This is an open seat because the incumbent, Frank Farina, was redistricted into the 112th, where he defeated another Democrat in the primary. The seat, which is located in Monroe County, leans Democratic.

HD-120: Kaufer wins bid to replace Mundy

Democrat Phyllis Mundy served HD-120 since 1991.  In December 2013, she announced she would not run for re-election, retiring after 12 terms.  Her retirement made this an open seat race between Democrat Eileen Cipriani and Republican Aaron Kaufer, who lost by a 12.2 percent margin in 2012 .

With 100% of the precincts in, Kaufer defeated Cipriani by nearly 2,000 votes, 9,282 (56%) to 7,278 (44%).

HD-145: Staats takes down Chellew

Republican Craig Staats defeated Democrat Karen Chellew by 16 points, 58% to 42% with 64% of precincts reporting. The Associated Press called the race for Staats.

Republican incumbent Paul Clymer chose not to run for reelection after 17 terms in office.

HD-146: Quigley edges Painter

Democrat Mark Painter, a one term incumbent, was set for a rematch of the 2010 and 2012 election with Thomas Quigley. In 2010, Quigley defeated Painter in, but in 2012, he lost 50.4%-49.6% to Painter.

Fast forward to 2014, and with 90% of the precincts reporting, Quigley defeated Painter by 4%, 9,067 votes to 8,320 votes.

The district is located in western Montgomery County, just east of Pottstown.

HD-157: Kampf locks up third term

Republican incumbent Warren Kampf secured his third term when he beat Democratic newcomer Marian Moskowitz by 15 points, 57% to 42% with 100% of precincts reporting.

Three-term Republican incumbent Warren Kampf will face off against Democratic newcomer Marian Moskowitz in this newly redistricted area.

The Chester and Montgomery seat was altered this election cycle after last minute redistricting sectioned off a significant portion of non-Republican voters and placed them in the 155th district.

HD-158: Ross cruises past Rzucidlo

Republican incumbent Chris Ross will keep his Chester County seat, beating Democrat Susan Rzucidlo by 16 points, 58% to 42% with 97% of precincts reporting.

Republican incumbent, Chris Ross, was not seeking reelection, but was added to the ballot after Republican Cuyler Walker withdrew from the race for the Chester County district following his win his party’s primary.

HD-161: Hackett wins second term

Republican incumbent Joe Hackett won his second term, defeating Democrat Leanne Krueger-Braneky by 28 points, 64% to 36%, with 33% of precincts reporting.  The Associated Press called the race for Hackett.

Recently redrawn in favor of two-term Republican incumbent Joe Hackett, Leanne Kruegar-Braneky was relying on the Delaware County support of Tom Wolf, Democrat for governor, in her bid for election.

HD-163: Santora wins, GOP holds on to 163

Republicans maintained their hold on the seat vacated by the retiring Rep. Nicholas Micozzie. Jamie Santora, a real estate broker and councilman at large in Upper Darby Township defeated Democratic challenger Rongione, an attorney and former capitol hill staffer.

Both candidates pledged continue the legacy of Micozzie by reaching across the aisle when necessary to get the job done.

With two-thirds of precincts reporting, Santora defeated Democratic candidate Vincent Rongione 53% to 47% with a lead of 1,400 votes.

The district is located in the heart of Delaware County.

HD-165: Adolph headed back to house for 14th term

Republican incumbent and Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Adolph, Jr., has served in the House since 1988, and is set to return for his 14th term in January. Jeremy Fearn ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, before withdrawing from the race on July 29th. Charles Hadley replaced him on the ballot.

The Associated Press called the race with 88% of the precincts reporting. In a landslide, Adolph Jr. was re-elected with 15,293 votes (65%). Charles Hadley finished with 35%, or 8,382 votes.

The district is located in Delaware County.

HD-176: Rader holds off Smith

Republican Jack Rader kept the Monroe County seat for his party, defeating Democrat Hope Smith by 20 points, 60% to 40% with 73% of precincts reporting.  The Associated Press called the race for Rader.

Six-term Republican incumbent Mario Scavello left the seat to run for State Senate leaving this seat open.

10 Responses

  1. Diano,
    I would like a short and succinct YES or NO answer. No obfuscation or polito-driveling.
    Do you agree with Wolfe that Pennsylvania taxes need to be raised. On your honor, yes or no only.

  2. I am sick and tired of the disrespect shown for State Committee on this board and from certain factions in this state. As a member of the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee, I take my job seriously. Unlike a lot of the whiners on this board, I worked very hard to get Tom Wolf elected and for all the downticket Democratic candidates in my county. I also worked hard to win my own seat and I did not run for State Committee so I could be anyone’s patsy. Although I think both Tom Wolf and Katie McGinty are great people, I did not appreciate being expected to vote a certain way for a certain person in the State Chair election earlier this year. Jim Burn won his position of Chair of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party fairly and squarely; anyone who still doesn’t like this result needs to shut up and quit playing crybaby. It’s time for all Democrats to celebrate our new Governor Tom Wolf and unite under the banner of our State Party.

  3. I am sick of the GOP inserting religion into government and denying science, research, educational benefits, and getting by while doing nothing.

  4. Every post here has valid points. The HDCC is pathetic. The SDCC is not far behind. Why Ethan Smith still has a job is beyond comprehension. Tim Briggs and his ingenious “plan” to take back the House seems to need some work. Neither Smith, nor Briggs, nor Matt Goldfine have a clue how to run a campaign in places without sidewalks or SEPTA. They have no plan to communicate issues to voters between elections and no idea how to undermine opposing incumbents until late in the election cycle. They are totally ineffectual in raising money. They will blame their candidates for not being good enough, but every one of their targeted races with “recruited” candidates lost. The vaunted recruitment program that Ed Rendell famously touted at a recent fundraiser oesn’t seem to have worked out so well.

    Fresh Start was just as big a disaster. Granted, they achieved their primary goal of electing Tom Wolf, but they did it by throwing downticket candidates under the bus from one end of the state to the other. They had an unbelievable field operation that counted on sucking up the field volunteers of candidates whose volunteer base was already overstretched. The tax increase messaging (didn’t matter what the income floor was)resulted in mailers claiming downticket candidates all supported raising taxes 40 or 121 or 180% under Wolf. How did Fresh Start respond in their defense? Crickets.

    Whatever the Briggs-Goldfine plan was for this election, let’s hope it wasn’t the one executed on Tuesday.

  5. Chuck- I’ve complained about the feckless HDCC for a while now. They failed to recruit Dem candidates in about a dozen districts with Dem majority registration, leaving those Republicans unchallenged.
    The Republicans ran away from Corbett like he had Ebola. But, Wolf NEEDED to look at the camera and ask voters who wanted to turn back Corbett’s policies to vote for Democratic legislators. He failed to do that.

    That was important message to explain to voters they weren’t going to get change if they voted for the same schm*cks who voted for education cuts and against taxing the shale.

    Montco Dem-
    Wolf weakened the State committee with his behavior after losing his bid to seat McGinty. He refused to show up at June event and September dinner.

    And, as Montco Dem, you know that Montco committee has established a petty/childish policy of boycotting State party fundraisers as long as Jim Burn is Chairman. This is like the Republicans underfunding public education and transportation, then pointing a finger in the wrong direction when the programs fail.

    Jim was picked, by a wide margin, of the state committee members who were elected in the May primary by the voters. The Team Wolf and Dems in Montco (and any other parts of the state) need to accept that and grow the f*ck up as a united party.
    I like McGinty and had no problem if she had been elected chair. But she wasn’t, so people need to move on.

    jjcnpa- Yes, there was a GOP wave. But, Wolf should have stood up for the whole ticket directly in his ads. He wants to lead the party and he wanted to install his pick, McGinty. Well, he needed to show leadership and work for coattails. I spoke with candidates about the lack of a coordinated campaign and they complained that Wolf flat-out wouldn’t help them beyond some photo-ops.

    If he pushed the whole Dem ticket, and we still lost, then I could respect him more a as party leader, and attribute the losses to other factors. He was going to win either way, and he could have (should have) made the case to the voters that they needed change in Harrisburg top and bottom.

  6. There was a national wave for Republicans that went down to the state level and there was nothing Wolf could do. The vote against Corbett was personal not ideological, as evidenced by the double-digit loss in Corbett’s percentages of support from 2010 to 2014 in the reddest counties in Central PA.

  7. What Diano says, but from the flip side — the Wolf campaign watched a fragmented, impotent, and out of touch state committee during the primary and knew that nothing good could come from closing ranks with them. I hope that the new Governor can use his victory and the obvious incompetence of PA’s Democratic hierarchy to rebuild the party and rid it of its business-as-usual apparatchiks.

  8. @David Diano- You need to step back to reality. The blame for this disaster does not fall squarely with Tom Wolf. This was caused by weak recruiting from the campaign committees, over reliance on voter modeling instead of real field programs, and committee staff that simply fail to realize the Obama voter plan does not work down ballot. Was Obama to blame when they lost house seats in 2012, a much much much better Democratic year? The other factor that played out was the Republicans shifted efforts down ballot because everyone knew Corbett was toast. Stop spouting off all the time and actually learn what is going on. We don’t fix the problem by blaming and complaining. We fix it be accessing what worked, and what did not, then making the changes necessary.

  9. This rout fall squarely on Tom Wolf and his REFUSAL to call for straight-Dem ticket voting from his supporters and any semblance of a coordinated campaign.

    The battle for State Committee chair caused a rift in the party and the formation of the Fresh Start PAC. There’s going to be a lot of finger pointing from both sides, but the real problem was Wolf and his advisers who implemented a strategy of appeasement to the GOP. The “thinking” (and I use the term loosely) was for Wolf to just focus on the already doomed Corbett, and NOT the GOP legislative candidates, in hopes the GOP would be nicer to him after January.

    Instead, Wolf dealt himself a weaker hand and LOST ground. He now needs more Republicans to vote with the Dems to pass his proposals. Which means they won’t get passed or he’s got to undercut them with special deals for the extra votes.

    Now, it’s possible Wolf could get along with the GOP establishment, but I find that as unlikely as Corbett going to work for Planned Parenthood. The GOP leadership isn’t going to give up its 19th century beliefs, especially buoyed by the GOP takeover at the federal level.

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