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Saccone is leader in House race

- State Rep. Rick Saccone
State Rep. Rick Saccone
- Democrat David Levdansky is informed by Carol Burke of new totals for the race for state representative as Levdansky supporters gathered at Elizabeth Fire Hall. Norma Kutscher|Daily News
Democrat David Levdansky is informed by Carol Burke of new totals for the race for state representative as Levdansky supporters gathered at Elizabeth Fire Hall.  Norma Kutscher|Daily News

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Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, 4:41 a.m.
 

The latest count in the 39th Legislative District gives a 114-vote lead to state Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth Township, in his Nov. 6 rematch with former Rep. David Levdansky, D-Elizabeth.

Saccone has 14,486 votes to 14,372 for Levdansky, according to complete but unofficial tallies for 48 precincts in Allegheny County and 13 in Washington County.

Those tallies came in daylong counting Tuesday in courthouses in Pittsburgh and Washington.

In Allegheny County, Levdansky still leads, 11,411 to 11,101, an edge that shrank in the past week from 340 as of dawn on Nov. 7 to 310 votes.

In Washington County, it was Saccone with 3,385 and Levdansky with 2,961, an increase in Saccone's edge from 376 votes on Nov. 7 to 424.

“We went through all the ballots very thoroughly,” Washington County elections director Larry Spahr said. “Both parties had watchers. Both parties had the opportunity to ask any questions as the ballots were being tallied.”

Because of the closeness of that race, Spahr said the 13 precincts included in the 39th District were the first of 184 to get attention in his county.

Saccone backers started celebrating late Tuesday.

“We have received exciting news that Rick Saccone has been re-elected for a second term,” the Washington County Republican Party proclaimed. “We wish to congratulate Rick on his success and we look forward to working with him in the future.”

There were other supporters, too.

“I had 18 churches praying for me,” Saccone said. “I had over a thousand people who sent words of encouragement ... either by emails or texts or phone calls. It was overwhelming. My wife Yong and I thank them very dearly.”

For Levdansky, the developments were not his highest priority Wednesday. He was attending the funeral for his aunt and godmother, and said the passing of a loved one can put things in a different perspective.

“I have not had a chance to fully digest, analyze, never mind make a decision, relative to this race,” Levdansky said. “I need to talk to different people whose counsel and judgment I will trust and make the appropriate decision at the appropriate time.”

That 114-vote margin likely isn't the final word.

A spokesman for the Allegheny County Elections Division said “there were some absentee and provisional ballots that were challenged.”

In all, 36 ballots were challenged, including absentee votes submitted under a court order after the usual Nov. 2 deadline.

The Allegheny County Board of Elections is to consider those challenges Friday at 9 a.m. That board is made up of county Executive Rich Fitzgerald and the at-large members of County Council, Democrat John DeFazio and Republican Heather Heidelbaugh.

Levdansky did say “the solution to the problems of democracy is more democracy, and I think everyone's vote should count, and should be allowed to count.”

Pending any litigation, the Allegheny County board will meet Nov. 26 at 10 a.m. to certify the results.

In Washington County Spahr said “no challenges have been filed at this point.”

Saccone reportedly was the number-one target of Democrats seeking to reduce the GOP majority in the state House. In 2010 Saccone ousted 13-term veteran Levdansky by 151 votes.

If Saccone maintains his lead, Republicans will maintain the same majority in the 2013-14 General Assembly session that it had in 2011-12, with 111 seats to 92 for the Democrats.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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