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Candidates line up to fill remainder of Orie's term

| Thursday, May 31, 2012, 7:14 p.m.

Republican and Democratic party officials will choose nominees in the next two weeks to run in a special election to represent former state Sen. Jane Orie's district.

Democrats plan to nominate a candidate next Thursday; Republicans are set to do so June 16. A special election is scheduled for Aug. 7 to fill the remainder of Orie's term in the 40th Senate District, which expires in 2014.

Orie, 50, of McCandless resigned May 21. A jury convicted her in March of 14 crimes related to using public resources for political campaigns and an attempt to use forged documents as evidence in court.

Orie will be sentenced on Monday. An Allegheny County judge on Thursday froze her campaign account and pension account until he decides how much restitution she will pay.

Republicans make up 46.4 percent of the 181,482 registered voters in the 40th district. Democrats make up 40.9 percent. The remainder belong to other parties.

Representatives from both political parties said candidates will give brief presentations about their qualifications and answer questions before party officials select a nominee.

Registered Republicans who have lived in the 40th Senate District for at least a year, in Pennsylvania for at least four years and have been U.S. citizens for at least four years are eligible to seek the nomination. Those interested may contact the state GOP committee at 717-234-4901, extension 151.

Seven Republicans have expressed interest in the job: former U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart, Hampton lawyer Christopher Abernethy, Valencia businessman Doug Austin, former Allegheny County Controller candidate Robert Howard, North Hills school director Jeff Meyer, Butler County Republican Committee vice chairwoman Robin Redding and Allegheny County GOP treasurer Karen Shaheen.

Ross Commissioner Dan DeMarco, who lost to Orie in 2010, said he is considering seeking the Democratic nomination. No one else has publicly announced interest in the nomination.

Potential Democratic candidates must submit a letter of intent by 5 p.m. Tuesday. The committee is headquartered at 223 Fourth Ave., 1st Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or on the Web at www.alleghenydemocrats.com.

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