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Allegheny County Democrats endorse several incumbents in primary

| Sunday, March 9, 2014, 6:18 p.m.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
State Rep. Harry A. Readshaw, D-Carrick, campaigns outside of the IBEW Local No. 5 in the South Side as voters walk in for the Allegheny County Democratic Committee annual endorsement meeting on Sunday, March 9, 2014. Readshaw is seeking re-election.

State Rep. Harry Readshaw came in from the cold on Sunday.

Instead of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with other candidates seeking the Allegheny County Democratic Committee's endorsement, Readshaw, 72, of Carrick stood outside the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers building in the South Side in a coat and fedora, greeting committee members before they entered.

Committee Chair Nancy Patton Mills said it was likely his experience and strong relationship with many members that helped him win their endorsement over freshman state Rep. Erin Molchany, 36, of Mt. Washington, 76 votes to 24.

“This is something you absolutely need, from my perspective,” Readshaw said. “I put value in the Democratic Party, and this process is so valuable.”

The committee endorsed many incumbents for the May 20 primary but had to pick between two incumbents in Readshaw and Molchany. Redistricting combined their South Hills districts.

While Readshaw worked outside, Molchany greeted voters inside the building at the head of a receiving line of about 50 candidates, including gubernatorial candidates Tom Wolf, a York businessman, and Katie McGinty, a former state secretary of Environmental Protection.

The committee did not make an endorsement for governor, though Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald joined a group of committee leaders and elected officials on Saturday to endorse Wolf.

Molchany and Readshaw are running in a hotly contested race for the 36th District, which includes southern city neighborhoods, Brentwood, Mt. Oliver and parts of Baldwin and Whitehall.

“He's been an elected official for many years; he's built relationships with many committee members,” Mills said. “She's an excellent state representative. It's a shame they were gerrymandered together.”

Molchany, who has been in office for 15 months, could not be reached to discuss the vote.

“To me, this is about engaging the party,” Molchany said before the votes were cast. “This is another opportunity to reach out to Democrats.”

In the closest race of the meeting, committee members voted 76-65 to endorse Rep. Adam Ravenstahl, 29, of Summer Hill over Tom Michalow, 43, of Avalon for the 20th state House district.

Other endorsements included Rep. Jake Wheatley, 42, of the Hill District in the 19th District, and U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, 60, of Forest Hills.

Other counties' committees will get to weigh in on the multi-county 12th Congressional District, but the Allegheny County Democratic Committee endorsed political newcomer Erin McClelland, 38, of New Kensington over retired Col. John Hugya of Holsopple in Somerset County.

McClelland, who hopes to take on Republican Rep. Keith Rothfus of Sewickley in November, said the endorsement was “very personal” to her.

“It's nice to know that people in your backyard support you,” she said.

The Republican Committee of Allegheny County is not endorsing candidates for the primary.

Adam Brandolph and Matthew Santoni are staff writersfor Trib Total Media. Brandolph can be reached at 412-391-0927 or abrandolph@tribweb.com.Santoni can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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