Pennsylvania Observer

A blog for progressive people in Pennsylvania. Greens, Democrats and others who want to comment on current news items in the Keystone State.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Senate Special Elections Update

Senate Special Elections Update. The race to replace Senators Schwartz, Wagner and Dent has begun in earnest. The special elections will be scheduled by the presiding officer of the Senate, Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll. The elections could be scheduled from mid-March on, but will most likely be held on May 17, the day of the off-year primary.

Political parties choose their nominees for special elections through their party committee structure. The Democrats and Republicans are considered major parties, and the Greens and Libertarians are currently considered minor parties under state law. All four are eligible to place nominees on the ballot without petitioning. The Constitution Party also obtained minor party status in the November 2 election and also would be eligible by the spring. Other parties and independent candidates would be able to run by gathering enough petition signatures.

In the Lehigh Valley, Rep. Mann is the clear favorite to get the Democratic nod to replace Sen. Dent.
In Pittsburgh, the Democrats could have more of a donnybrook. Allegheny County Councilman Wayne Fontana, Pittsburgh City Councilman Jim Motznik and Allegheny County Treasurer John Weinstein have all publicly declared interest in running.

Four names have come up so far on the Democratic side. Rep. LeAnna Washington (photo, left) is the early favorite, with the majority of the district in the city of Philadelphia. Congressman Chaka Fattah is pushing one of his aides, Cindy Bass who was also a former Schwartz staffperson. If Schwartz and Fattah strongly back Bass, there may be a real battle within the city Dems. But more that 40% of the district is in Montgomery County, the suburbanites have a couple of contenders as well. Rep. Larry Curry, a longtime Schwartz ally, is rumored to want to move to the upper chamber. County Commissioner Ruth Damsker is also considering throwing her hat in the ring. The Observer's money is on Rep. Washington, but Bass may be the dark horse in this race. On the GOP side, Jon Fox wants to get back into an elected position, but he's getting a much-deserved reputation as a loser. The Greens are also actively looking for someone to run in the race, and may find a quality candidate. The only neighborhood-based Green chapter is in the district and they're fairly active. This is a safe D seat, though. The real action will be in the committee meetings that choose the Democrat's nominee.

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