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Rothfus trounces Buchanan in 4th Congressional

| Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Edgeworth attorney Keith Rothfus overcame low name recognition early in his campaign to defeat his well-known opponent, former U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan, in the 4th Congressional District Republican primary.

"I appreciate that the people of the district responded to my message where I continually talked about the need for limited government, lower taxes, job creation in the private sector (and) repealing the health care reform bill," Rothfus said during his campaign celebration at the Blue Water Tavern in Wexford. "All these issues are resonating with people in the district."

According to preliminary results, Rothfus held a commanding lead with 67 percent of the vote compared to Buchanan's 33 percent with 77 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday night.

Rothfus, 48, raised more money and carried less political baggage than Buchanan -- two reasons he said made him the stronger choice to face Democratic U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire, 42, of McCandless in November. Altmire took office in 2007.

"People I actually came in contact with were very supportive and very responsive. Apparently there were a lot of other people out there who felt differently," Buchanan said at her campaign headquarters in Wexford.

Rothfus, a father of six, touted his time as an attorney in President George W. Bush's Office of Faith-Based Initiatives. The Bush administration hired Rothfus after he volunteered on the former president's 2004 re-election campaign.

Buchanan promoted her eight years as Western Pennsylvania's top federal prosecutor even though opponents ridiculed her for a failed corruption case against former Allegheny County Coroner Dr. Cyril H. Wecht and her conviction of famed marijuana advocate Tommy Chong for selling bongs online.

The 4th District covers most of Beaver and Lawrence counties and portions of southern Butler and northern Allegheny counties.

To the north in the 3rd Congressional District, incumbent Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, 52, of Erie easily defeated lone challenger Mel M. Marin, 56, a former real estate investor from Erie, in the Democratic primary.

Dahlkemper drew intense criticism from conservatives for her vote in favor of the health care reform legislation that President Obama signed into law in March.

Six Republicans lined up for the primary with the hope of unseating Dahlkemper, who is in her first term. The 3rd District covers Erie, most of Butler, Crawford and Mercer counties, and portions of Venango and Warren counties.

Republican Mike Kelly held a slim lead over his competitors with 29 percent of the vote and 77 percent of precincts reporting.

Kelly, 61, a former Butler car dealer and city councilman, was the only Republican candidate with previous experience in elected office.

The other Republican candidates were Clayton Grabb of Connoquenessing; Martha Moore of Sandy Lake; Steven Fisher of Cochranton; Mike Kelly of Butler; Ed Franz of Summerhill; and Paul Huber of Vernon.

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