Sen. Kasunic to Retire, Triggering Swing District Battle

Sen. Kasunic
Sen. Kasunic

Five-term Senator Rich Kasunic (D-Fayette) announced his retirement, intensifying a battle for the southwestern Pa. seat.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to represent the fine people of our area over the past three-plus decades,” Kasunic said in a statement. “This decision was honestly not an easy one, but after much soul-searching I decided that, it is time to devote myself to spending quality time with my friends, and more importantly, my family, in this next chapter of my life.”

Kasunic served 12 years in the House before moving to the Senate in 1994.

Democrats made big gains in the State Senate in 2012, but Republicans are hoping to push back in 2014. SD-32 is the single most conservative district represented by a Democrat and was among the GOP’s best opportunities even before Kasunic’s announcement.

The district comprises Fayette and Somerset counties plus a few precincts in Westmoreland.

Republican Pat Stefano, a local small businessman and community leader, formally announced his intention to seek run early last month – with the support of Republicans locally and in Harrisburg.

In a statement, he wished Kasunic well.

“I would like to commend Senator Rich Kasunic for his more than thirty years of service to local residents at both the county and state levels of government,” Stefano said.  “I wish him and his family well in their new endeavors.”

Before Kasunic’s retirement, it was the most conservative seat held by a Democrat. Romney won the southwestern Pa. district 60% to 40% in 2012, while Tom Smith outpaced Bob Casey 55% to 45%. Kathleen Kane won 54% to 46%.

GOP chatter indicates the party is planning to spend $750,000 to $1 million in the 32nd.

The Democrats do not have a clear choice for their nominee. State Rep. Tim Mahoney of Uniontown is a prominent local figure, but he has not indicated an interest in seeking a seat in the Senate.

Lauren Mahoney Yohman, a businesswoman who previously worked for the AFL-CIO, is another potential recruit. She is Mahoney’s daughter.

“We’re talking to some very strong candidates in the district and will be announcing soon,” SDCC Political Director Anne Wakabayashi told PoliticsPA.

Kasunic is the sixth Senator to announce retirement this year.

4 Responses

  1. @Joe –

    Unlike you, I don’t try to predict the future as if I am a seer, I read results. And among many other subjects, you need to learn basic math.

    It is true that Western Pennsylvania is becoming more Republican. But every county in Western Pennsylvania except Centre and Washington is losing population–by large percentages, and quickly. And Centre County is becoming more Democratic, not more Republican.

    At the same time, nearly every county in Eastern Pennsylvania is becoming more Democratic. And nearly every county in Eastern Pennsylvania is gaining population–by large percentages, and quickly.

    On balance, Pennsylvania demographic and ideological trends show a state becoming more Democratic, not more Republican.

    As for comparing 2012 election results with 2008 election results, every politico worth a dime knows only foolish beginners compare two successively similar elections as if they exist in a vacuum. Even if that person would except your valueless premise, the 2012 election results bode well for Democrats, and very poorly for Republicans. Democrats were 5 for 5 and Republicans were 0 for 5 in statewide campaigns (campaigns for US House, PA Senate, and PA House finished +2 for Democrats, but those races, unlike statewide races, are in district drawn to favor Republicans–that is the law, and I accept that):

    1) Attorney General = DEMOCRAT WINS, REPUBLICAN LOSES (the Democrat beat the Republican by a HUGE margin, noting the first time in the 30+ year elective history of the office a Democrat won);

    2) Auditor General = DEMOCRAT WINS, REPUBLICAN LOSES (the Democrat beat the Republican by a comfortable margin, despite being outspent by the Republican);

    3) Treasurer = DEMOCRAT WINS, REPUBLICAN LOSES (the Democrat beat the Republican by a large margin);

    4) U.S. Senate = DEMOCRAT WINS, REPUBLICAN LOSES (the Democrat beat the Republican, despite being outspent by the Republican nominee);

    5) President = DEMOCRAT WINS, REPUBLICAN LOSES (the Democrat beat the Republican by a comfortable margin in a high-visibility campaign where ads merely are a supplement–the campaign was covered on every news broadcast watched by Pennsylvanians).

    2012 Scoreboard: Democrats 5, Republicans 0. That seems like a shutout to me.

  2. Stalinist party? Soviet-Communist Obama?
    Secret police pay a visit? Still got your gun? Denounced by a neighbor? Repeat myopic twaddle? We’re not there yet, Joe.

  3. Dems shouldn’t be fooled. The whole SWPA region (and soon NWPA) is becoming more red by the day. As the Democrat party continues to turn further and further left-wing, becoming the Stalinist party, it won’t be long until Allegheny county turns at least into a swing county with more red leaning. In the 2012 elections, PA wasn’t even campaigned in, and Obama only won by 5.1%, cut in half from ’08, and fewer republicans and independents voted in ’12 than ’08 in PA. This was especially true for Allegheny county, and living in the county, anyone can see many Reagan Democrats are finally beginning to see how much of a Soviet-Communist Obama really is. Pittsburgh is NOT NYC, Philly, or Seattle. The more anti-gun, anti-free market, anti-private property rights, and more anti-Bill of Rights the Democrat party becomes, the more and more they loose an actual honest base of good people. Gone are the days of the JFK, Edmund Muskie, and Hubert Humphrey Democrat party. A damned shame indeed.

  4. I hope the Dems in Fayette County aren’t going to roll over and allow the Republicans to take over! Why would the Dems want to nominate an individual that can’t make it to three meetings a year?

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