Reschenthaler cruises to win in new 14th Congressional District
Republicans chalked up a decisive victory Tuesday in congressional balloting in the new 14th Congressional District, where Republican state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler bested retired auto industry executive Bibiana Boerio.
Preliminary results showed Reschenthaler, 35, of Peters in Washington County, beating Boerio, 64, of Unity in Westmoreland County, 58 percent to 42 percent in the district that includes all of Fayette, Greene and Washington counties as well as about two-thirds of Westmoreland County.
Reschenthaler, who gathered Tuesday night with friends and supporters at the DoubleTree Hotel in North Strabane, ran as a pro-Trump Republican, touting his experience as a prosecutor in the Naval Judge Advocate General Corps in Iraq.
Dressed in a dark suit, a white shirt and red tie, the candidate mingled with supporters throughout the night as election results came in. Cheers rang out at 10:10 p.m. when the race was called.
Journey’s hit song “Don’t Stop Believing” blared in the Grand Ballroom as supporters awaited Reschenthaler’s victory speech.
“The votes are all in, the people have spoken and we’re heading in a new direction in southwestern Pennsylvania,” Reschenthaler said. “We believe in low taxes, a strong national defense but also … criminal justice reform and improvement in mental health care.”
Supporter Kim Shadish, 48, of North Strabane, said the young lawmaker struck the right chords with voters in the region.
“He stands for the common person, the working class and he just stands strong for what we would like to see happen in this state,” Shadish said.
“I’ve been with Guy since the beginning,” said Paul Bergin, 71, of Hempfield. “I just like him on everything. I like him as a conservative — on abortion, on the Second Amendment.”
Bergin, a retired airline mechanic, has been campaigning for Reschenthaler since March and also likes his record working for the Navy JAG Corps in Iraq.
Back in Greensburg, where Democrats crowded into the Rialto, an iconic tavern that has hosted election night gatherings for years, Boerio was upbeat.
The first-time candidate who attracted a crew of enthusiastic volunteers circulated around the room smiling, hugging supporters and thanking them for their work even as early returns seemed to ensure her defeat.
“Nobody expected us to win. If this was an easy race, people would have been stepping up to run. This race was all about starting to rebuild the infrastructure of the party in Westmoreland, Washington, Fayette and Greene counties that had been left untended for so long,” Boerio said.
Although Democrats in the new 14th District have a 32,663 voter registration edge, experts say it is one of the most Republican leaning districts in the state. Voters in the district, as now configured, gave Donald Trump a 29 point edge in 2016.
Moreover, the district has been trending Republican for the last decade. In the months between the May primary and Tuesday’s election, Democrats saw their registration edge slip by about 4,000 as more new voters registered Republican or independent and some Democrats switched to become registered Republicans.
Reschenthaler, who unsuccessfully sought his party’s nod to run in the spring special election in the old 18th Congressional District, won the GOP nomination in the May primary when he beat Rick Saccone.
The state lawmaker, the son of a school librarian and a chiropractor, is seen as one of the Pennsylvania Republican party’s rising young stars. He won election as a district magisterial judge in Allegheny County in 2013, shortly after leaving the Navy and went on to win a special election in the state Senate’s 37th District in 2015.
The young lawmaker who previously lived in Jefferson Hills, rented an apartment in Peters in the new district shortly after winning the primary.
He went on to campaign for strict immigration policies, more tax cuts and the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act.
Reschenthaler’s campaign raised $920,000. Boerio’s effort tallied $670,000.
Boerio, who retired from Ford Motor Co., as managing director of its Jaguar division, served as chief of staff to former Congressman Joe Sestak from 2008-2011 and then served as interim president of Seton Hill University for a year.
The Latrobe native, who grew up in a union household, stressed her blue collar roots and promised to work to keep and improve the Affordable Care Act. She also called for infrastructure investments to boost corners of Southwestern Pennsylvania that have yet to fully recover from the economic downturn.
Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 412-320-7996, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @deberdley_trib.