Candidates last week filed nominating petitions for an April 24 primary that might not take place.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled last month that the plan passed by the Legislative Reapportionment Commission was unconstitutional because it unnecessarily split townships, boroughs and cities.
The commission might try to pass a new plan this week, but it’s unclear whether those lines could be used in time for the regularly scheduled primary. It’s possible the primary date could be moved to a later date.
The primary could be really exciting if the Republican presidential nomination remains up for grabs. The leading contenders are former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. They’ll be joined on the Pennsylvania ballot by former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
President Barack Obama is the only Democrat on the ballot.
In the race for U.S. Senate, Democratic Sen. Bob Casey Jr. faces a primary challenge from Joseph Vodvarka, a small-businessman from Allegheny County who vows to serve only one term and is campaigning on a platform of making English the official language, building a fence along the border with Mexico and drilling for oil in the United States.
Republicans have endorsed Malvern businessman Steve Welch.
Four others remain in the race. They are David Christian, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and president of a Holmesburg-based defense manufacturing company that builds ground support equipment for U.S. Navy aircraft carriers; Marc Scaringi, a Perry County attorney and former aide to Santorum; former state Rep. Sam Rohrer; and Tom Smith, a wealthy former coal company owner and Tea Party leader from Armstrong County.
Pennsylvania voters will elect a new attorney general and auditor general and decide whether to keep the incumbent treasurer.
Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed is unopposed for the Republican nomination for attorney general. He’ll face the winner of the Democratic primary between former congressman Patrick Murphy and former Lackawanna County Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Kane.
Republicans have won every contest for attorney general since it became an elected office in 1980. Freed is the son-in-law of former Attorney General Leroy Zimmerman.
However, several of the races have been close, and Democrats enjoy a big voter-registration advantage. Moreover, the Democrat will have money in the general election. Murphy excels at fund-raising, and Kane is wealthy.
Auditor General Jack Wagner, a Democrat, is not permitted to seek a third term.
The Republican-endorsed candidate is state Rep. John Maher, of Allegheny County. He’s being challenged by Frank Pinto, a South Philadelphia native who ran for City Council in 1975 and once worked as legislative director for Charlie Dougherty when he served in the state Senate. Pinto has been a longtime resident of Dauphin County and is president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers.
The Democratic candidate is state Rep. Eugene DePasquale, of York County. DePasquale and Maher are hedging their bets, having filed to seek re-election to the state House. Both will be unopposed in the primary and general elections for their House seats.
Democratic Treasurer Rob McCord, a rising star in the party, will face Republican Diana Irey Vaughan, a Washington County commissioner.
U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D-1st dist.) faces a primary challenge from former Municipal Court Judge Jimmie Moore. The Republican candidate is Realtor John Featherman, who ran for mayor last year.
U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-13th dist.) is being opposed in the primary by Nathan Kleinman, a member of the “Occupy” movement who has worked as an aide to then-state Rep. Josh Shapiro and in the campaigns of Obama and U.S. Senate candidate Joe Sestak.
The winner of the Schwartz/Kleinman contest will face Republican Joseph Rooney, a Delta Airlines pilot and retired Marine.
State Sen. Shirley Kitchen (D-3rd dist.) is guaranteed another four years. She has no Democratic or Republican opposition.
Sen. Mike Stack (D-5th dist.) will seek a fourth term against Republican Michael Tomlinson, who earlier planned to run in the 1st Congressional District.
In local races for state House of Representatives, Reps. Mike McGeehan (D-173rd dist.) and John Sabatina Jr. (D-174th dist.) are unopposed in the primary and general elections.
Also sailing to a two-year term will be Democrat Steve McCarter in the 154th Legislative District. A retired high school social studies teacher, he won the unanimous backing of Cheltenham Democratic leaders and retiring Democratic Rep. Larry Curry. That support caused Jeff Harbison to exit the Democratic race. He’s a software company CEO, Springfield commissioner, president of Wyndmoor Civic Association and treasurer of Congresswoman Schwartz’s political action committee.
The general election contests are set in three districts. Rep. Tom Murt (R-152nd dist.) will face Democrat Ronald Kolla. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-170th dist.) faces a challenge from real estate broker/owner George Weiss, a Republican. Rep. John Taylor (R-177th dist.) will be opposed by Democrat William Dunbar, a former aide to U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah.
There are primary contests in five other districts.
Freshman Rep. Kevin Boyle (D-172nd dist.) faces a challenge from Dan Collins, a teacher from Mayfair. Both ran in a three-way primary two years ago. The Boyle/Collins winner will face Republican Al Taubenberger, a Fox Chase resident and president of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.
Rep. Tony Payton (D-179th dist.) is being challenged in the primary by James Clay. No Republican filed.
Rep. Mark Cohen (D-202nd dist.) has a primary challenge from Numa St. Louis, a 61st Ward committeeman. No Republican filed.
Rep. Dwight Evans (D-203rd dist.) has two primary opponents, Sabriya Bilal and Lamont Thomas. No Republican filed.
The 169th Legislative District has been vacant since Republican Denny O’Brien joined City Council at the start of the year. The seat was to be moved to a fast-growing area of York County under the lines that were rejected.
For now, the primary will be held in Philadelphia.
Five Republicans filed — two from the Northeast and three from York County.
Party leaders have endorsed Dave Kralle, who worked for O’Brien at his district and Council offices. Also running is teacher John McCann.
York County residents Leroy Wentz, Allan Case and Marc Woerner filed petitions but probably will be removed from the ballot because the signatures came from the boundary lines that were rejected.
The Democratic candidate is Ed Neilson, who handles government relations for a law firm and is the former political director of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98.
Shawn Dillon, a veteran of the auditor general’s office and Democratic leader of Ward 66-A, collected 1,500 nominating petitions but did not file.
“There was too much uncertainty. I had too much to give up,” he said. “If it involved ten years, it would be totally different.”
Ward leaders probably would have endorsed Dillon, while Local 98 would have thrown its considerable might behind Neilson.
“Eddie wants it,” Dillon said.
Dillon thanked his committee people for collecting the petitions by throwing a pizza party at Santucci’s. ••EndFragment