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Trio of Washington County Republicans seek nomination for vacant state House seat

Wes Venteicher
| Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, 5:57 p.m.
Jerad Cypher
Jerad Cypher
Tim O'Neal
Tim O'Neal
Joseph DeThomas
Joseph DeThomas

Three Washington County Republicans have announced they are campaigning for a May special election to replace a Democratic state representative who resigned to become a judge.

Jerad Cypher, a former president of East Washington Borough Council, announced his campaign this week to be the party's nominee for the 48th state House District. He is running, so far, against Tim O'Neal, an Army veteran who is a manager at a construction company; and Joseph DeThomas, who works at Komatsu Mining and is a member of Teamsters Local No. 585.

The party will hold a meeting at 9 a.m. Jan. 27 at Washington Country Club during which up to 78 party committee members will vote to pick a candidate, Washington County Republican Party spokesman Dave Ball said. The meeting is open to the public.

The party's nominee will appear alongside the Democratic Party's nominee on ballots in a special election May 15. The winner of the election will serve the rest of the term of former Rep. Brandon Neuman, who resigned after being elected to the Washington County Common Pleas bench. His state House term ends in December.

The candidates for the special election will appear on the same ballots as candidates in primary elections for statewide office. The special-election candidates might appear twice on the ballots — once in bids to serve out Neuman's term and once to win the party's nomination for the November general election for the 2019-20 term.

The district includes Washington, Canonsburg, Houston, Chartiers, North Franklin, North Strabane and South Strabane.

“I believe this district needs a strong, unwavering, pro-business voice, specifically as it relates to coal and natural gas,” Cypher said in a campaign announcement.

Cypher said he wants to undertake pension reform, get government out of the way of business and address the opioid epidemic. He said he would decline a pension, per diem payments and other “perks” of holding office.

O'Neal described himself in a news release as a “staunch fiscal conservative” who would advance and protect traditional Republican values.

“The 48th House District is quintessential Western Pennsylvania, with its strong, traditional values and Whiskey Rebellion spirit of personal independence,” O'Neal said in the release. “My goal is to take those values with me to Harrisburg to make certain that our region is not only represented, but respected.”

DeThomas, who also is an Army veteran, described himself as dedicated to service and to protecting jobs in the region.

“I have felt the sting of the war on coal first hand as I have had to take a nearly one-third pay cut to keep my job,” he said in a statement. “Protecting jobs in the region will be a top priority for me.”

The Washington County Democratic Party did not respond to an email or a voicemail asking about its candidates or process for the election.

Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5676 or wventeicher@tribweb.com.

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