The Pennsylvania Races I’ll Be Tracking Election Day

Like most of the country I’ll be watching the presidential election this year, heck I watch it closely every four years. I hope it’s fair and, most of all, I hope after the winner is announced that the entire country gets behind and supports this individual. However, since my work is at the state level, this article is about races in the Pennsylvania legislature that I’ll be closely watching this year.

Here are the races that I find intriguing:

The Home Game

I’m a believer that citizens need to know who represents them and people should not blindly vote in elections. Get to know your elected officials and see how they vote on issues that affect your life. For the past few years, our family has lived in Dillsburg and here are our races:

Senate District 31 Race: Mike Regan, R (incumbent) v. Shanna Danielson, D

House District 92 Race: Dawn Keefer, R (incumbent) v. Doug Ross, D

As an advocate of businesses, especially small businesses, one factor I consider when gauging the performance of a legislator is how they treat businesses in their district and in turn how local businesses feel about their elected officials. I’ve yet to encounter a single business who is displeased by the two incumbents – Mike Regan and Dawn Keefer. Additionally, for Regan, I really like the effort he puts into helping our veterans – they served our country and he doesn’t forget about them as a Senator. As for Keefer, just ask her a question related to the state budget and tax dollar expenditures and get ready to hear a passionate and intelligent response.

As for their opponents, campaign staff from Danielson contacted me a few times the first week of August about the State Senate race (I think registered Independents get extra unwanted love come election time). The staff asked if I would accept a call from Shanna to hear directly from her about her priorities and I said “sure.” As of the publishing of this article, I never received that call. And for the House race, I have seen three Ross signs in Dillsburg and that is all that I know about this individual.

Will Flippers Get Flopped Out of Office

In September of 2020, a piece of legislation that allowed school districts to be in charge of attendance and safety protocols at sporting events passed in both the House and Senate with veto-proof numbers. Governor Wolf vetoed it. The Pennsylvania House tried to override the veto. 24 Representatives from the House flipped their votes and the House was unable to advance the override to the Senate. Nine of the 24 flippers have opponents in the General Election while the rest run unopposed. Of the nine, I’ll be watching these three:

House District 33 Race: Frank Dermody, D (incumbent) v. Carrie Delrosso, R

House District 143 Race: Wendy Ullman, D (incumbent) v. Wendy Labs, R

House District 163: Race Michael Zabel, D (incumbent) v. Michael McCollum, R

It’s tough to beat an incumbent. More info on these races:

I find the Dermody v. Delrosso race fascinating due to the labor support…for the Republican candidate. For a Democrat Leader in Harrisburg, it’s just kind of assumed that labor unions have your back, but not so much in this race. Delrosso has backing from numerous building trade unions like the Laborers District Council of Western PA, International Union of the Operating Engineers Local 66 and the Cement Masons Local Union 526.

A few weeks ago Wendy Ullman notoriously made national headlines when she jokingly said to Governor Wolf during a press conference that wearing a mask is ‘political theater’ and then laughter followed. It was a bad look for a politician.

For Michael Zabel, I found his comments on the House floor related to this legislation to be inappropriate in my opinion. Yes, COVID is real and yes COVID is scary, but our state has been impacted differently across the state and I don’t think we should have one rule to follow – science and data prove that rural areas have been hit less than Philadelphia yet a place like Elk County follows the same rules. By saying that people at high school sports to watch our kids is a “frivolous use of legislative resources” is a ….well I want to keep this article PG.

NOTE: Days after this article was written, the State House of Representatives attempted another veto override. This time it was in relations to capacity limits and mandates for restaurants and bars. The override of House Bill 2513 fell two votes short in the House because 12 Democrats flipped their vote; Mr. Zabel was once again one of the flippers.

Blue Targeting Some Senate Seats

It’s tough to beat an incumbent. Prior to the 2018 Elections, the Republicans had a healthy 18-seat lead in Pennsylvania’s upper chamber. After the 2018 Election, the Democrats picked up five seats to close the margin. Due to one sitting Senator allegedly questioning the direction of the Democrats in Harrisburg and switching to an Independent, the minority party now needs to flip four seats in 2020 to gain control. Here are four seats that Democrat politicos are talking about:

Senate District 15 Race: John DiSanto, R (incumbent) v. George Scott, D

Senate District 9 Race: Thomas Killion, R (incumbent) v. John Kane, D

Senate District 49 Race: Daniel Laughlin, R (incumbent) v. Julie Slomski, D

Senate District 13 Race: Scott Martin, R (incumbent) v. Janet Diaz, D 

I don’t think any of the incumbents have done anything to warrant a change and businesses in their district speak positively about each. But hey, it is 2020 and anything can happen, so I’ll be tracking the races.    

Other Important Senate Races

It’s tough to beat an incumbent. I keep hearing about the four seats listed directly above when it comes to flipping the Senate; however, this sentiment assumes all other incumbents win their race in the Senate. I don’t think Senate Districts 37 and 45 are slam dunks for the incumbents. While Pam Iovino has the upper hand and will be difficult to beat, this should be a competitive race. Not only do we have two veterans vying for this Senate seat, which I love to see, but since 1981 Republicans have held this seat for 35 of the past 39 years. As for District 45, with incumbent Brewster, a casual viewer might see it as an easy win for the Democrat, but in 2016 Trump performed way better than expected in this district and since Brewster has been running unopposed in the past, it’s unsure how things will play out in this race.

Senate District 37 Race: Pam Iovino, D (incumbent) v. Devlin Robinson, R

Senate District 45 Race: James Brewster, D (incumbent) v. Nicole Ziccarelli, R

The Metcalfe Watch

In 2002, as I was in the process of getting married and graduating from University of Pittsburgh,  I moved to Cranberry Township, PA (an area north of Pittsburgh). Shortly after moving there I called the offices of both the State Senator and Representative – I did this to get to know the people who represent me and it was not job related (I wasn’t hired in a government affairs position until a few years later). I never heard from the office of the Senator. As for the office of the Representative, they called to ask if I’d like to meet for a morning coffee and I said yes. I showed up not knowing what to expect and thinking maybe a staffer might show up to hand me a Metcalfe pen or sticker. I end up meeting with Daryl Metcalfe and it was an enjoyable conversation. I was impressed how he insisted on getting to know his constituents. A few years down the road, I started working in the union construction sector and every two years I hear this from Democrat supporters in Harrisburg: “this is the election that we finally get to take down Metcalfe.” But here we are, and Daryl is going for his 10th re-election term.

House District 12 Race: Race Daryl Metcalfe, R (incumbent) v. Daniel Smith, D

Tuesday, November 3 should be a fun night as results come in. I can’t wait. What races are you watching? I’d love to hear from you. To get in touch with me, email me at Jon@KeystoneContractors.com.

Author: buildingpa

I am the proud father of three amazing daughters and I'm married to an awesome lady. When I'm not hanging with the family, I'm the executive director for the Keystone Contractors Association.

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