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Walsh defeats Popovich to win Pennsylvania state House 58th District seat

Renatta Signorini
| Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, 7:54 a.m.
Mary Popovich
Mary Popovich
State Rep. Justin Walsh, R-Rostraver
State Rep. Justin Walsh, R-Rostraver

Republicans wrested away control of a state House seat with political newcomer Justin Walsh of Rostraver getting the majority of votes to represent the 58th District, according to unofficial returns.

“I think it's an indication that the voters want a change,” said Walsh, 44. “They want a new voice. They want an independent voice. They want the commonwealth to move in a different direction.”

Walsh will take over the seat being vacated by state Rep. R. Ted Harhai, D-Monessen, who is retiring when his term expires in December.

Walsh received about 62 percent of the votes, according to unofficial returns. He was opposed by West Newton Mayor Mary Popovich, 62, who took about 38 percent of votes.

“I think that my message was good. I just don't think it was the right time for my message,” Popovich said.

Harhai was first elected in 1998 in the district where Democrats hold an edge in voter registration. He is finishing his 10th term in office.

Walsh has been an attorney for 18 years.

He believed a combination of factors led to his win — his message of creating a better economy and environment for establishing new businesses in Pennsylvania coupled with reaching out to voters in the district's smaller towns. Walsh said he knocked on more than 12,000 doors, some in communities like Penn, Arona and Smithton.

Voters in those “places that are forgotten” appreciated the personalized approach, he said.

The 58th District represents a portion of Westmoreland County, including Monessen, Rostraver, Sewickley, South Huntingdon, Mt. Pleasant, Jeannette, East Huntingdon, Belle Vernon, West Newton and parts of Hempfield.

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-837-5374 or

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