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2018 Election Preview

by on May 10, 2018 8:19 AM

CENTRE COUNTY — When the Pennsylvania Supreme Court came up with a new congressional map in February, it caused some confusion for  voters and candidates for the upcoming primary election set for Tuesday, May 15. 

Redistricting split Centre County into two U.S. congressional districts, so that means an extra race in the county.

“It made it a little difficult as we headed toward the primaries to have the redistricting happen just a few months out,” Centre County Democratic Committee chairman Greg Stewart said. "We now have two congressional districts in the county, which means we have two races to get ready for. 

“It was a challenge for some of the candidates who had large new areas to campaign in during a short amount of time. It is difficult to see the county split into two sections, but the political science major in me knows that it for the best.”

The majority of the county's area is in the new 15th, which comprises much of the former 5th District represented by Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard Township. Thompson will run for re-election in the 15th District. He is running unopposed in the Republican primary. In the Democratic primary for the 15th district, Susan Boser, of Indiana County, is taking on Wade Jodun, of Patton Township.
The southeastern part of the county, including State College and the Penns Valley area, have moved to the 12th district. In the redrawn map, that district includes parts or all of Clinton, Mifflin, Juniata, Perry, Snyder, Northumberland, Union, Lycoming, Sullivan, Bradford, Susquehanna, Tioga and Potter counties.

The incumbent in the 12th district is now Lycoming County Republican Tom Marino, who will be seeking his fifth term. Marino was President Donald Trump's pick for drug czar, but withdrew from consideration after reports that he sponsored legislation, embraced by the pharmaceutical industry, that hindered federal efforts to combat opioid abuse.

Although he is the incumbent, Marino is being challenged in the primary by Doug McLinko, of Bradford County. He had planned on challenging Marino in the former 10th district and continued after the district changed to the 12th.

Thompson fought the redistricting change, and now many county Republicans who voted for Thompson for years are left to choose between new candidates they know little about, said Centre County Republican Party chairman Steve Miller.

“These people know Glenn Thompson, and are confused about why they are no longer voting for him. The governor and the Supreme Court have created confusion and this will discourage people from voting in the election, which is what they want,” said Miller. “That they changed the map so close in the game really caused problems.”

Miller said the candidates were disappointed by the changes, but they are moving on and have been trying to educate voters on who they are voting for in the primary and in November.

Ferguson Township Democrat Marc Friedenberg, who had been running for the nomination to challenge Thompson in the 15th District, now looks to challenge Marino in the 12th. He is up against Judy Herschel, of Susquehanna County. 

Centre County Republican Committee member Kris Eng knows of many confused voters who do not know who they are voting for.
“With Halfmoon Township, especially, split in half, and neighborhoods split in half, it is confusing for voters. The new maps have been difficult and people are confused,” said Eng.

The county has ballots all ready to go, said Centre County Commissioner Steven Dershem. Residents can preview the ballots and see where to vote at the Centre County Government website, www.centrecountypa.gov.

The race for the six-year seat in the U.S. Senate is not affected by the redistricting. Incumbent Bob Casey Jr., of Lackawanna County, is running unopposed in the Democrat primary. The Republicans have a choice between Luzerne County's Lou Barletta and Beaver County's Jim Christina.

Republicans also will be deciding who will challenge Gov. Tom Wolf in November. The three candidates voters will choose from are a commercial litigation attorney Laura Ellsworth, of Pittsburgh; former health care systems consultant Paul Mango, of Allegheny County; and state Sen. Scott Wagner, of York County. 

For lieutenant governor, Democrats will choose between Nina Ahmad, of Philadelphia; Kathi Cozzone, of Chester County; John Fetterman, of Allegheny County; Ray Sosa, of Montgomery County; and Mike Stack, of Philadelphia. On the Republican side, the candidates include Jeff Brats, of Montgomery County; Kathy Coder, of Allegheny County; Peg Luksik, of Cambria County; and Diana Irey Vaughan, of Washington County.

State government elections are not affected by the redistricting and many of the candidates are running unopposed.

“For most of the candidates running unopposed, the best thing they can do is run their campaign like it is contested and get the word out as much as possible for November,” said Stewart. 

Here is breakdown of who is running for the seats:

■ 34th Senatorial District
Democrat
Ezra Nanes, State College Borough, Centre County
Republican
Jake Corman, Benner Township, Centre County

■ 76th Legislative District
Democrat
Mike Hanna, Lock Haven, Clinton County
Republican
Stephanie Borowicz, Wayne Township, Clinton County

■ 77th Legislative District
Democrat
Scott Conklin, Rush Township, Centre County

■ 81st Legislative District
Democrat
Rick Rogers, Shirley Township, Huntingdon County
Republican
Rich Irwin, Spruce Creek Township, Huntingdon County

■ 171st Legislative District
Democrat
Erin McCracken, Millheim Borough, Centre County
Republican
Kerry Benninghoff, Bellefonte Borough, Centre County

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