Democrats appear to have massively outraised their Republican counterparts in advance of three critical special elections Tuesday for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
The three Democratic candidates collectively reported raising about $150,000, according to campaign finance reports submitted last week, while the two Republicans who currently have reports available pulled in a total of about $4,700.
The three special elections will take place for districts located in heavily Democratic parts of Allegheny County. The 32nd District, largely in Penn Hills, had been represented by the late Anthony DeLuca; the 34th District, centered on Braddock and other towns just east of Pittsburgh, was formerly represented by U.S. Rep. Summer Lee; and the 35th District, based in McKeesport and the Mon Valley, was last held by Lt. Gov. Austin Davis.
The stakes are high for Democrats — filling the three vacant districts will return the 203-seat state House to its full complement and is likely to decide which party controls the chamber for the long haul. Democrats need to win all three races to control the state House for the first time in more than a decade, while Republicans need just one of them to keep control.
Local labor unions, including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and Laborers’ District Council of Western Pennsylvania, contributed significantly to the Democrats and were responsible for roughly $1 in every $3 raised.
The Pennsylvania Democratic Party is also putting in large resources to help its candidates, providing more than $30,000 in in-kind contributions to create campaign literature.
Republicans were able to gather comparatively meager sums for the races, though the gap will likely narrow once additional campaign finance reports become available.
A political committee for Clayton Walker, the Republican candidate for the 32nd District, reported contributions totaling about $4,000. Nearly 40% of that sum, or $1,500, was from the Republican Committee of Allegheny County.
Robert Pagane, the Republican candidate for the 35th District, self-funded all of the $663 in campaign funds listed on his campaign finance report that’s currently available.
Allegheny County’s two major political committees held meetings last December to pick their candidates for the special elections. They are:
- 32nd District: Joe McAndrew, chair of the Penn Hills Democratic Committee (D); Clayton Walker, U.S. Army veteran and pastor of The Mustard Seed Church (R).
- 34th District: Abigail Salisbury, lawyer and Swissvale councilor (D); Robert Pagane, former law enforcement officer (R).
- 35th District: Matt Gergely, administrator who has held roles with the city of McKeesport and McKeesport Area School District (D); Don Nevills, U.S. Navy veteran and small business owner (R).
Jon, a copy editor and reporter at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, is currently on strike and working as a co-editor of the Pittsburgh Union Progress. Reach him at email@example.com.