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Trib editorial: Geography, not philosophy, guided Pennsylvania primary

| Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 12:09 p.m.

Tuesday's primary showed voting patterns in statewide races that were more closely aligned to geography than of political philosophy.

A look at the Pennsylvania map showed that to be the case for the contested races for the Republican nomination for governor, lieutenant governor and U.S. Senate.

Scott Wagner, the state senator from York, handily beat Paul Mango of Pine Township. The Pittsburgh businessman won all of Southwestern Pennsylvania and nothing else.

For lieutenant governor, Republican Jeff Bartos of Montgomery County, who teamed with Wagner, took all of the state other than Philadelphia and Pennsylvania's southwest corner — home to Diana Irey Vaughn, the Washington County commissioner.

Democrat John Fetterman will face Bartos in the fall. The Braddock mayor took every county in the western two-thirds of the state but no place in the east.

The trend was the same in the U.S. Senate race. Republican Jim Christiana, a state representative from Beaver County, won much of western Pennsylvania (but not Westmoreland) and nothing else statewide. All of those counties were claimed by four-term congressman and former Hazleton mayor Lou Barletta, who will take on incumbent Sen. Bob Casey in November.

In contested congressional races, the GOP contest for the 14th Congressional District was the most publicized, but its outcome isn't surprising. Guy Reschenthaler, the 35-year-old state senator from Jefferson Hills, handed Rick Saccone his second congressional loss in two months. Saccone lost a special election for a different district in April.

Philosophy really didn't play much into Reschenthaler's win; both have similar views. It likely was Saccone's loss to Democrat Conor Lamb in April and the spotlight it placed on Saccone. All Reschenthaler had to claim was that he's conservative and he's not Saccone.

Reschenthaler will face Democrat Bibiana Boerio of Unity.

In the 13th Congressional District, its eastern Westmoreland County voters had a light turnout, not surprisingly. Westmoreland's voters account for just 6 percent of the sprawling 10-county district's. None of its candidates was from Westmoreland, and few made appearances.

Good luck with that representation.

Perhaps the region's most compelling congressional race won't take place until November when upstart Democrat Conor Lamb takes on incumbent Keith Rothfus to represent the 17th Congressional District.

The big stunner, statewide, in state Senate races occurred in the Alle-Kiski Valley. Republican Randy Vulakovich of Shaler was handily defeated by Ross Township Commissioner Jeremy Shaffer. There were 22 state senators up for reelection; Vulakovich was the only one from either party to lose Tuesday's primary. He lost despite the backing of the state GOP leaders. Shaffer claimed he was the more conservative of the two.

In state House races of local interest, the 54th District held center stage. Longtime Murrysville Mayor Bob Brooks beat three formidable candidates, all from Murrysville. He'll face the area's only young candidate in the fall, 22-year-old Democratic nominee Jon McCabe, of Lower Burrell, who beat another 22-year-old. The power of the youth movement in politics will be severely challenged in the fall.

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