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Readshaw tops Molchany in incumbent battle for 36th Legislative District

| Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 12:17 a.m.

Rep. Harry Readshaw's two decades of experience triumphed on Tuesday over his opponent's high-profile endorsements in a battle for the redrawn 36th Legislative District that pitted two Democratic incumbents from Allegheny County.

Readshaw of Carrick won what was, at times, a rancorous primary contest against Rep. Erin Molchany of Mt. Washington.

“People have faith in me, and I'll continue to do what I do,” said Readshaw, 72.

He had about 60 percent of the vote, with 97 percent of precincts reporting, according to preliminary election returns. Molchany had 40 percent.

Readshaw had not faced a primary challenger since he took office in 1994. A round of census-based legislative redistricting established new boundaries for the 36th District overlapping with Molchany's seat, resulting in the incumbent face-off.

Molchany, 32, was first elected to her seat in 2012. Championing progressive causes such as pay equity and marriage equality, she won endorsements from Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and City Council President Bruce Kraus.

Molchany called Readshaw to concede about 9:15 p.m., then spoke to supporters at Redbeard's, a bar and restaurant in Mt. Washington.

“It was a hard-fought campaign, and she looks forward to working with him over the remainder of her term in Harrisburg,” said Molchany campaign spokesman Jacob Redfern.

Readshaw had a built-in edge among voters: Within the new boundaries, about 70 percent of the population was formerly part of Readshaw's constituency. The district covers southern portions of Pittsburgh, Mt. Oliver, Brentwood and most of Baldwin.

Readshaw, a funeral director, has a stake in his third-generation family business, Readshaw Funeral Home on Brownsville Road.

He said he would “wait and see” how relationships unfold with elected officials who endorsed his opponent.

“I'm open to healing wounds, making friendships, so we'll see,” he said. “The next move is theirs.”

Readshaw received support from labor unions representing Pittsburgh firefighters and the Allegheny County Labor Council, among other groups. Readshaw said he is a conservative-leaning Democrat who is against abortion.

Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania PAC had endorsed Molchany and released an attack ad against Readshaw.

Melissa Daniels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8511 or mdaniels@tribweb.com.

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