Rafferty, Stewart, Walsh win judicial nominations; set to battle for two seats
Two Democrats — Michael Stewart II of Hempfield and Jessica Rafferty of Unity — and Republican Justin Walsh of Rostraver will battle in the November general election for two seats on the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas, based on unofficial results in Tuesday’s primary.
Stewart took second on the Democratic ballot with 25.9% of the vote and first on the Republican ticket with 22%. As a result, he will appear on both sides of the ballot in November. Rafferty won the Democratic ticket with 27.7% of votes. Walsh finished second in the Republican primary field of six candidates with 20.3%, based on the vote total reported from all 305 precincts.
Democrat Matthew Schimizzi, 35, of Hempfield, came in third on both tickets — 19.3% of Democratic vote and 17.1% on the GOP ballot.
Rafferty, 39, overtook Stewart, 37, in late vote results for the Democratic party nomination. On the Republican side, she came in fourth (14.1%).
Rafferty said she was “pleasantly surprised” with the results that showed her capturing the Democratic ticket.
“We did a lot of outreach. We heard a lot about the mailers, and I did a lot of door knocking. We worked really hard … and I think the hard work paid off,” Rafferty said.
On the Republican ticket, Stewart led throughout the night.
Stewart attributed his victory to his family and the team that organized his campaign. He hit the airwaves in the latter stage of the campaign with a television advertisement and peppered the central part of the county with his campaign signs.
“I ran a campaign that was not political. I ran a campaign that was based on my experience and my concern for families in Westmoreland County,” Stewart said.
Walsh, 47, a state representative for the 58th District, was the only judicial candidate from south of the Youghiogheny River. He attributed getting one of the Republican nominations in November’s election to winning his base and the support of the county Republican Party.
“The party really got behind us (Republican) candidates and put out a good message,” Walsh said.
The two other Republican candidates, Westmoreland County Public Defender Wayne McGrew, 50, of Sewickley, and Baxter, 51, of North Huntingdon, got 14.2% and 12% of the GOP vote, respectively.
None of the Republican judicial candidates on the Democratic ticket reached 10 percent of the vote. Baxter was closest (9.8%), followed by Walsh (8.7%) and McGrew (7.65%).
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .