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Nelson nails landslide victory in race for 57th House seat

| Tuesday, March 15, 2016, 9:45 p.m.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
Fred Francese of Hempfield Twp., a campaign volunteer for Republican Eric Nelson, greets Lois Weyandt, of Hempfield Twp. as she arrives at the polling place at Maplewood United Presbyterian Church on March 15, 2016 for a special election for state representative in the 57th District. Democrat Linda Iezzi and Republican Eric Nelson are vying to fill the remaining nine months in the term of retired Rep. Tim Krieger.

Republican Eric Nelson, in a landslide victory, won a special election Tuesday for the state House seat left open by the departure of Tim Krieger, keeping the seat under GOP control.

With all 51 precincts reporting, Nelson received 66 percent of the vote. Democrat Linda Iezzi got 34 percent.

Nelson, 50, a businessman and college instructor, is expected to take office once the results are verified by the county's election bureau. He will serve through Dec. 31 to complete the two-year term that was vacated when Krieger, a Delmont Republican, was elected a Westmoreland County judge.

Nelson and Iezzi, a businesswoman and former South Greensburg councilwoman, are unopposed in their party's April 26 primaries. They are expected to face off in the November general election for a full term to represent residents in the district that includes Greensburg, South Greensburg, Southwest Greensburg, Delmont, New Stanton, Hunker, Youngwood, and parts of Hempfield and Salem townships.

“I think the results showed it wasn't about Republicans and Democrats; it was about working together and cooperation and taking a common-sense approach. I look to continue that level of cooperation,” Nelson said Tuesday night. “The next step is to go out to Harrisburg and move forward.”

Election officials expected a low turnout. According to the final results, nearly 17 percent of the district's 42,351 eligible voters cast ballots.

Nelson, a retired Marine, campaigned against proposals by Gov. Tom Wolf to increase taxes and state spending. He favored a plan to sell off the state's liquor stores and advocated for pension reform.

A faculty member at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Nelson had been registered as an independent until late last year when he changed to Republican. County GOP officials, who nominated Nelson to run in the special election, said they were satisfied with his conservative credentials.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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