Currently, the Republican Party holds a 27 to 23 majority in the legislature’s upper chamber. Democrats need to pick up a net of two seats if Tom Wolf wins the Governor’s race (and Mike Stack doesn’t cause a constitutional crisis) and three seats if Gov. Corbett wins re-election.
We’ve narrowed down the five Senate races that are most likely to switch party control on Nov. 4th. The good news for Democrats, a path exists to take control of the Senate. The good news for Republicans, the Dems would have to win a clean sweep of these five races and the Gov contest.
Each district has been ranked by the likelihood it will switch parties, starting with the least likely.
5. 6th District: Sen. Tommy Tomlinson (R) vs. Kim Rose (D)
Likely going GOP, but in a dream scenario for Democrats this seat could flip.
Democrats are dreaming that a potential Tom Wolf landslide will negate all national trends (which seem to be leaning Republican) and bring legitimate coattails. The best place to check for a possible “blue wave” in PA is this district. Located in Central and Lower Bucks County, the Sixth is a Democratic district on paper. Sen. Tomlinson, though, has deep roots in the community. He was first elected in 1994, was a State Rep. for four years before that and began his public career all the way back in 1978, when he was elected to the Bensalem school board.
Rose, meanwhile, is a member of the Northampton Twp. Board of Supervisors. She’s hammered the incumbent on TV for his votes to support Gov. Corbett budgets. If the first-time candidate can take down the veteran pol, it would indicate that the Democrats are going to have a very good night.
4. 46th District: Sen. Tim Solobay (D) vs. Camera Bartolotta (R)
This seat has been the GOP’s white whale district for years. If Republicans flip this district, it’s highly likely they’ll hold the Senate.
The 46th district covers the Southwestern corner of the Keystone State and consists of Greene County as well as parts of Beaver and Washington. Three-quarters of its voters, though, live in Washington County. The GOP is hoping to unseat incumbent freshman Sen. Tim Solobay. Southwest PA has become increasingly conservative as the Eastern part of the state becomes more progressive, leading Republicans to believe they can turn this seat.
GOP nominee Camera Bartolotta is a first-time candidate, however, who previously worked in the film industry. Meanwhile, Sen. Solobay has tried to emphasize his community ties by referencing his work as a volunteer firefighter.
3. 40th District: Rep. Mario Scavello (R) vs. Mark Aurand (D)
Redistricting put this once-safe Dem seat within striking distance for the GOP.
The 40th district is a peculiar case as it is an entirely new seat created during the latest round of redistricting. As a result the district, which consists of parts of Monroe and Northampton counties, is untested political ground.
Technically, it is retiring Democratic Senator Jim Ferlo’s seat, so it represents a pickup opportunity for the GOP. Additionally, Republican nominee State Rep. Mario Scavello, seemingly has the advantage since about 75% of his current constituents reside in the new district.
Attorney Mark Aurand is the Democratic nominee, after pulling an upset over establishment favorite Northampton County Councilman Scott Parsons. Aurand is attempting to paint Scavello as a “rubber stamp” for Governor Corbett but a September Harper Poll showed Scavello with a solid lead.
2. 32nd District: Rep. Deb Kula (D) vs. Pat Stefano (R)
The is the most conservative district held by a Democrat and a big GOP opportunity.
The 32nd district, which represents Fayette and Somerset counties along with a bit of Westmoreland, is Republicans’ top target this cycle. Incumbent Rich Kasunic dropped out after businessman Pat Stefano entered the race. Given the fact that President Obama lost this district by twenty points and even Senator Bob Casey lost it by ten, it would seem to be a prime GOP opportunity.
Yet State Rep. Deb Kula is giving it all she’s got. She is trying to use Corbett against Stefano while the Republican is touting his business experience and blasting Rep. Kula for her Harrisburg history.
This is another Southwestern seat Democrats will probably need to hold if they want to win the upper chamber.
1. 26th District: Tom McGarrigle (R) vs. John Kane (D)
This open seat is a battle royale between the parties in a district that, on paper, is evenly split.
Ever since GOP Sen. Tim Erickson announced his impending retirement back in the summer of 2013 this seat has been the most contested of the 2014 cycle. Located in Chester and Delaware counties, the 26th district presents Democrats with a huge opportunity to pick up a Republican seat. President Obama won the 26th with 56% of the vote in 2012.
The candidates in the race are polar opposites and the campaign has been fierce. Republican nominee Tom McGarrigle is the Delaware County Council Chair but is also a businessman. On the other hand, Democratic nominee John Kane is the Business Manager of the Plumbers Local 690.
McGarrigle has hit Kane with some sharp attacks and the recent revelation of past family drama was an embarrassment for Kane. Nevertheless, the Democratic nominee is still very much in this race and if he can pull it out, he just might be a part of the majority party in Harrisburg come January.