Westmoreland row office incumbents enjoy wave of approval
Democratic and Republican leaders in Westmoreland County declared victory on Wednesday, a day after incumbents from both parties won re-election to row offices.
For the Democrats, District Attorney John Peck won a fifth term, Coroner Ken Bacha secured a fourth term, and Prothonotary Christina O'Brien took a second term.
Clerk of Courts Bryan Kline became the first Republican to win re-election to a county row office in more than 50 years.
“There wasn't a huge anti-incumbency movement around the state,” said G. Terry Madonna, a professor of public affairs and director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College. “This was a status quo election locally and came down to whatever party turned out the votes.”
In Westmoreland, Republicans hold six offices, and Democrats have three.
Voter turnout from each political party was not tracked during the election, but there was evidence that partisan politics affected the results.
About 23 percent of more than 60,000 voters who cast ballots voted a straight-party ticket. Results showed that more than 7,100 Democrats and 6,800 Republicans strictly voted along party lines.
Turnout on Tuesday was 25 percent.
Although Democrats hold a registration edge of more than 30,000 voters, Republicans have dominated local and state elections in recent years. Two years ago, the GOP swept five row offices and won two out of three commissioner seats.
Republicans said they continued to make gains on Tuesday, citing Kline's re-election and the uncontested victory of Meagan Bilik DeFazio, who was elected a Common Pleas Court judge. The Republican won both parties' nominations in the primary.
“I don't view it as a step back. We maintained our momentum as we move forward to 2014 and 2015,” said Jill Cooper, chairwoman of the county's Republican committee.
The Republicans put up Murrysville patent attorney Peter Borghetti against Peck and former Deputy Coroner F. Christopher O'Leath against Bacha.
Both lost in landslides.
Newcomer Mike Powers came within 2,000 votes of defeating O'Brien.
Cooper said the power of incumbency decided the local races.
“The judge race was our signature victory,” Cooper said. “Realistically, we were hoping to take three of the five races.”
Democrats said internal changes to the party structure and an emphasis on grassroots campaigning led them to victory.
“We're just rebuilding the party and the message we had was Westmoreland County is a finicky county” that could fluctuate in a given election cycle, said Jesse Walker, executive director of the local Democratic committee. “We have gotten away from grassroots politics on the local level. We are really getting back to that.”
The incumbents' victories not only halted the Republican gains but provided Democrats some momentum heading into next year's state races for governor, representatives and senators, Walker said.
“This was really a boost for us with the results being what they were. We stemmed the tide and put a dent in it,” Walker said.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Westmoreland women stole thousands to finance dog show appearances
- Latrobe man who admitted role in fatal crash allowed to continue driving
- Sewickley Township man got food stamps, $206K in gas well royalties, investigators say
- Sunoco wants to rebuild station in Greensburg
- Arnold man sentenced for armed robbery
- Murrysville man draws on experiences in starting SAT prep academy
- Geyer helps revive Scottdale theater that bears family name
- Burger named for late Greensburg VFD member star of ‘bashes’
- State grant to aid Excela plans for orthopedic center in Hempfield
- Ex-Milwaukee archbishop told he can’t spend final days at St. Vincent Archabbey
- Man snatches purse behind Westmoreland Mall