Skip to content


This year is the big one, there is no off-year election for PA.  The President, state row offices, US Senator, our entire Congressional delegation, the entire PA State House and one-half of the State Senate are all up for election/re-election in November.  

Pennsylvania’s primary was moved up to April 26 this year, from its traditional post Mother’s Day slot, and it remains to be seen how presidential primaries and delegate selection nationally may impact turnout here in the Keystone State.  Obviously, if there are still competitive races on either side, it will significantly impact the number of voters who are willing to take time out to vote on that Tuesday.  After SC and Nevada this weekend, Democrats still have both Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders actively competing for delegates.  The GOP appears to be narrowing to a three-man race between Donald Trump, Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, but Ohio Gov. John Kasich is continuing in the race, focused on northern and Midwestern states, and Dr. Ben Carson says he will stay in until the Cleveland convention.  ERG will update you on those issues as the presidential races change and presumably some of the nominees drop out.

Turnout aside, this is intended to be a summary of where things stand a few days after the deadline for filing petitions for local and statewide elections in Pennsylvania.  We’ll run through the races from a statewide perspective, then focus on key local races that impact you and your operations.

US Senate:  Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey (R), is running for re-election.  National Democrats have targeted this race as one they can win in a presidential election year, assuming they will get a large Democratic turnout in the cities.  Toomey was elected by less than five percent of the vote in 2010, a year where the GOP was winning the Governor’s Office and taking over the state House.  Toomey is unopposed in the Republican primary, but four Democrats are running to challenge him in the fall.  

The race is seen to be among three candidates, former Congressman Joe Sestak who lost that narrow race to Toomey in 2010; Katie McGinty, former chief of staff to Governor Wolf and former DEP Secretary; and John Fetterman, mayor of Braddock, in Allegheny County.  Also on the ballot is Allegheny County machine shop owner Joe Vodvarka, who was kicked off the 2010 Democratic Senate primary ballot via a legal challenge. At this point, experts predicted a two-way battle, but polls show none of the candidates with more than 33% of Democratic support and Fetterman polling in the mid to upper teens.

US Congress:
Among PA Congressmen, only Mike Kelly, Tom Marino and Tim Murphy find themselves unopposed.  

Most media focus will be on two races in the Philadelphia area, where the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has chosen the 8th Congressional district seat being vacated by Mike Fitzpatrick as one of 31 targeted races in the Country.  The Democrats first have a primary between State Rep. Steve Santarsiero, and Shaughnessy Naughton, who runs a family publishing company and is a scientist.  Democratic leaders have split their endorsements between the two, but DCCC is banking on Santarsiero.  On the GOP said, Fitzpatrick’s brother Brian, a former FBI special agent, is running vs. County Commissioner Andy Warren, and Clinical Psychologist Marc Anthony Duome.

The second race is really a primary election.  Congressman Chaka Fattah has been indicted on federal charges, and is being challenged by State Rep. Dwight Evans, who’s served as House Appropriations Chair.  In addition to Fattah and Evans, Lower Merion Township Commissioner Brian Gordon and Ninth Ward Leader Dan Muroff are also running in the Democratic primary.  James Jones is the Republican entered in the race.

In the 7th District, Congressman Pat Meehan(R) faces a primary from the right with real-estate broker Stan Casacio running against him, and in the 9th District, Congressman Bill Shuster will again be challenged by Tea Party candidate Art Halvorson.  

In the 16th District where Congressman Joe Pitts is retiring, and State Senator Lloyd Smucker will square off against Chet Beiler, the CEO of Amish Country Gazebos in the primary.

Statewide Row Offices:
Attorney General – Kathleen Kane announced this week she will not stand for re-election, and it remains to be seen if she will complete her term facing multiple charges and having had her law license suspended by the Supreme Court.  On the Republican side, State Senator John Rafferty faces Scranton attorney Joe Peters.  Three Democrats are locked in a battle, with Stephen Zappala, the Allegheny County DA, Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro, and Northampton County DA John Morganelli all running for the nomination.  Gov. Wolf this week endorsed Shapiro, who co-chaired the Governor’s Transition Team.

Auditor General – Incumbent Auditor General Eugene DePasquale (D) will face Northampton County Executive John Brown (R) in the fall.

Treasurer – With no incumbent, Republicans will have businessman Otto Voit of Berks County on the fall ballot.  Democrats have a primary election between former Ambassador/CEO/Deputy Philadelphia Mayor Joe Torsella and attorney Albert Baker Knoll, son of the former state Treasurer and Lt. Governor.

State House:
The House is currently under GOP control by a 118-82 margin with three seats being filled by special elections on March 15.  Two of those seats are in Philadelphia and expected to remain Democratic.  The third is in Westmoreland County where Republican Tim Krieger was elected to a county judgeship and resigned from the House.  

Of the 203 seats in the House, 86 members are running without primary or general election opposition. Twenty-three House seats will be decided during the primary, with no general election opponents now on the board.  

At least 18 new members of the House will be elected this year – seven members have resigned to take other positions, and 11 have announced plans to retire.  A total of 27 House incumbents face Primary challengers: seven Republicans and 10 Democrats.  Republicans with primary challenges include: Reps. Diamond, Helm, Irvin, Metcalfe, Rapp, Rothman and Simmons.  The 10 Democrats with primaries are: Reps. Boyle, Cohen, Brown, Bullock, Burns, Davidson, Farina, Gainey, Sims, and Wheatley.

State Senate:
In the state Senate, Republicans control by a 30-19 split.  The 50th seat, that was vacated by former Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, will be filled by a special election on April 26.  Two members have announced their plans to retire:  Sens. Pat Vance (R-Cumberland), and Shirley Kitchen (D, Philadelphia), and another, Lloyd Smucker, is running for Congress and with a win, could resign after the November election.  

Eleven of 25 state senators up for re-election this year are running without primary or general election opposition and two more have only primary opposition.  Those with primary fights are Philadelphia Democratic Senators Larry Farnese and John Sabatina.  Sabatina faces the brother of Congressman Brendan Boyle, State Rep. Kevin Boyle.