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Ward appears to lock up keeping state Senate seat

Rich Cholodofsky
| Monday, April 30, 2012, 8:00 p.m.

The race for the state Senate seat held by Kim Ward apparently is over.

The Hempfield Republican, who ran unopposed for the Republican nomination to retain her seat, is poised to win a write-in campaign to secure the Democratic Party nomination as well.

Ward received 1,679 write-in votes from Democrats to defeat Jeannette High School principal Stuart Albaugh, according to unofficial results from the Westmoreland County Election Bureau. Albaugh, a Democrat, received 649 write-in votes.

Ward and Albaugh staged write-in campaigns as no Democrats appeared on the ballot for the 39th Senate District.

"There's still a lot of hard work to do," Ward said Monday. "I campaigned on my record, and I'm grateful to all the Democrats who wrote my name in. It says the citizens of Westmoreland County are really looking for representation and not looking for a (political) party."

Democrat candidates needed at least 500 write-in votes to win the party nomination for the state Senate seat, Election Bureau Director Jim Montini said.

The vote tallies are unofficial and could change slightly when they are certified this month.

"It won't change the final results," Montini said.

While Ward's victory all but ensures her re-election to a second term in office, another incumbent's write-in effort last week failed.

Rep. Eli Evankovich, R-Murrysville, who is serving his first term, was unopposed in the GOP primary and will have a general election challenge from former Kiski Area School Board member Patrick Leyland.

Leyland, a Democrat, secured 696 write-in votes, while Evankovich received 467. To be eligible for the state House ballot, write-in candidates in that race had to receive at least 300 votes, Montini said.

Leyland will try to mirror the accomplishment of county Controller Jeff Balzer, who won a write-in campaign last spring to secure a spot on the fall ballot. Balzer, a Republican, went on to defeat incumbent Democrat Carmen Pedicone.

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