Orie, Brewster cruise in state Senate races
Republican Jane Orie of McCandless will return to the state Senate for another term, and Democrat James Brewster, the mayor of McKeesport, will join her to fill an open seat in Harrisburg.
Republicans appeared poised to regain control of the state House, picking up at least eight seats, including three open seats. At least five incumbent House Democrats were defeated, including Majority Leader Todd Eachus, D-Luzerne.
Voters on Tuesday chose to re-elect Orie even as she awaits trial on charges of diverting public resources to a political campaign. Preliminary returns in the 40th District showed Orie beating Democrat Dan DeMarco, a Ross commissioner, 58 percent to 42 percent, with 99 percent of precincts reporting.
"I'm humbled and honored by the support of my consitutents," Orie said, celebrating with family and friends at Chadwick's in Wexford. "It shows they believe in me and what I've stood for. ... The next step is to vindicate myself and restore the good name given to me by my parents."
Brewster won a Senate special election to replace Monroeville Democrat Sean Logan, who resigned in September to take a job with University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Brewster beat Republican Paul Olijar of Plum, 53 percent to 43 percent, with 98 percent of precincts reporting. Libertarian Len Young of Monroeville won about 5 percent of the vote.
"We're going to hit the ground running," Brewster said, promising to work hard.
A Democrat took the House seat held by former Republican Speaker John Perzel of Philadelphia, who faces similar corruption charges. With 97 percent of precincts reporting, Kevin Boyle won 54 percent of the vote to Perzel's 46 percent.
In the 50th District, former Democratic House Speaker Bill DeWeese of Waynesburg, also facing trial on public corruption charges, appeared on track to beat Republican Richard Yeager. With 94 percent of precincts reporting, DeWeese won 52 percent of the vote to Yeager's 48 percent.
But House Democrats James Casorio of Irwin and John Pallone of New Kensington lost seats the party held for decades, and Democrats Tim Seip, David Kessler and John Siproth also lost.
Democrats began the day with a five-seat margin, so barring a comeback in late returns, Republicans will retake control of the House after four years in the minority. In the state Senate, the GOP margin of 30 seats to 20 was not expected to change much, if at all.
"The governor, the Senate and the House — we've won them all," Allegheny County Republican Committee chair Jim Roddey told supporters at the victory rally for governor-elect Tom Corbett. "We're going to take control of the House of Representatives, and Mike Turzai (of Bradford Woods) will be our majority leader. What a great night. We waited a long time for this."
Also in the state House, incumbent Democrat Joseph Markosek will return to Harrisburg for a 15th term, defeating Plum council President Mike Doyle in the 25th Legislative District.
With 49 of 51 precincts in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties reporting, Markosek, a Monroeville resident, had 55 percent of the vote to Doyle's 45 percent.