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GOP Sweeps Governor, US Senate, Congressional Delegation & PA House Contests

From Ameila Pare, MD

(Bold denotes winners supported by PAMPAC)

Republican candidates won two of Pennsylvania’s top seats – governor and US Senate – helping the GOP regain the majority in the US House and trim the Democrat’s majority in the US Senate.

Former Attorney General Tom Corbett handily won the governorship, and with 51 percent of the vote Congressman Pat Toomey won a very close race against US Rep.  Joe Sestak (D-Delaware), who had 49 percent. Both Corbett and Toomey were supported by PAMPAC.

Before Tuesday’s election, Pennsylvania House Democrats held a 104—99 majority.  In 2011 House Republicans will begin the next session with at least a 111—92 majority, having won 14 seats formerly held by Democrats and losing only two seats formerly held by Republicans.

Overall, 10 Democratic incumbents were defeated, compared to one Republican.  Republicans also captured four “open” seats while losing only one from their column.

As election night wound down, there were still three races considered too close to call.  All three are contests where Republican challengers took on Democratic incumbents and may win as absentee ballots are counted.

Of particular importance to physicians was the bid by republican Rob Ciervo in the 31st House District of Bucks County.  Before the recount and absentee ballot process begins, incumbent Democrat Steve Santarsiero led by less than 1 percentage point with a difference of only 189 votes.  PAMPAC’s early involvement in this race is widely credited as the key factor that built the momentum for Ciervo to close the gap on the incumbent.  The other two close races were in the 39th District (Allegheny) and 71st District (Cambria).

Incumbent House members who lost were the Democratic Leader Todd Eachus (Luzerne), Tom Houghton (Chester), John Pallone (Westmoreland), Jim Casorio (Westmoreland), Tim Seip (Schuylkill), David Kessler (Berks), Rick Taylor (Montgomery), Barbara McIlvaine-Smith (Chester), Paul Drucker (Montgomery), John Siptroth (Monroe) and John Perzel (Philadelphia).  Perzel is the lone Republican.

In stark contrast, there will be little change in the State Senate.  With three open seats created by retirements and one special election vacancy, all held by Democrats, the Republicans failed to increase their current 30-20 majority.  All incumbent state senators on the ballot were re-elected and four new Democrats were elected in the open seats.

In addition to capturing one of Pennsylvania’s two US Senate seats, the GOP captured the majority in Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation, winning five seats that had been held by Democrats.

Because the congressional districts will be redrawn next year, this year’s House elections hold future significance. The GOP dominated drawing those districts in 2001, but then lost nearly every conceivably vulnerable incumbent over the next nine years.

In other key races around the commonwealth:

3rd Congressional district (Northwest) – Republican Mike Kelly defeated Democrat incumbent Kathy Dahlkemper

7th Congressional district (Delaware County) – Republican Pat Meehan won the seat vacated by Sestak, defeating Democrat Bryan Lentz in the only open congressional seat.

8th Congressional district (Bucks County) – GOP challenger Mike Fitzpatrick has ousted incumbent Democrat Patrick Murphy; Fitzpatrick had lost to Murphy four years ago

10th Congressional district (Northeast) – Republican Tom Marino defeated Democratic incumbent Chris Carney

11th Congressional district (Northeast) –Republican Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta defeated Democratic incumbent Paul Kanjorski

But not all the GOP’s candidates were victorious.

4th Congressional district (Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Lawrence, Mercer, Westmoreland) – Democrat Jason Altmire turned back a strong challenge from Republican Keith Rothfus.

17th Congressional district (Schuylkill, Berks, Lebanon, Dauphin and Perry counties) – Democrat Tim Holden defeated State Senator Dave Argall

Others who won on Tuesday – all incumbents, with the congressional districts they represent in parentheses – were: Bob Brady, D-Philadelphia (1); Chaka Fattah, D-Philadelphia (2). Jason Altmire, D-Allegheny (4); Glenn Thompson, R-Centre (5); Jim Gerlach, R-Chester (6); Bill Shuster, R-Blair (9); Mike Critz, D-Cambria (12): Allyson Schwartz, D-Philadelphia (13); Mike Doyle, D-Allegheny (14Charlie Dent, R-Lehigh (15) and Joe Pitts, R-Chester (16).

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