Carbon County's two representatives in state government may be retiring at the end of 2010, leaving Tuesday's Primary Election balloting up for grabs for nominations to those positions (see related story in today's TIMES NEWS), but the political clout of incumbency rang loud and clear in the U.S. House of Representatives' race yesterday where longtime Rep. Paul E. Kanjorski scored a solid victory over two challengers.
Kanjorski, a Democrat now in his 26th year in the Congress, won the race that includes parts of five Northeastern Pennsylvania counties with 33,783 votes. Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O'Brien finished second with 23,236 votes, followed by Brian W. Kelly, Marywood University business information technology professor, with 11,512 votes.
Carbon Countians apparently liked the 13-term congressman's work on issues such as support for small businesses, preservation of Social Security and Medicare and care for veterans, giving Kanjorski a resounding 59 percent of the vote. The current chairman of the highly-visible Capital Markets Subcommittee in the House had 3,530 votes locally, more than double the 1,489 votes tallies by O'Brien and three times-plus the total of 974 chalked up by Kelly.
Kanjorski will face Republican Lou Barletta, the Hazleton City mayor who was unopposed yesterday. He received 28,311 votes overall in the district, which also includes Luzerne County and parts of Monroe, Columbia and Lackawanna counties. Kanjorski has twice defeated Barletta in the district, winning in 2002 and 2008.
In a victory statement, the congressman said, "I thank the Democratic voters in the 11th District for their support today in our solid victory over two hard fighting challengers. Many people in northeastern Pennsylvania are still fighting through tough times and they deserve to have a representative who is fighting for them. I will continue to fight to support our small businesses, preserve Social Security and Medicare and take care of our veterans who sacrificed to take care of us. Make no mistake, 11th District voters will face a real choice this November. If I am fortunate enough to be re-elected I will continue to put the needs of the people of northeast Pennsylvania first, ahead of corporate special interests. I will continue to fight for lower taxes for the middle class and tougher regulations on Wall Street."
Meanwhile, county voters voted almost exactly as the rest of the state's Democrats did in balloting for U.S. Senate and Pennsyvania governor and lieutenant governor, favoring the winners, Joe Sestak for Senate, Dan Onorato for governor and H. Scott Conklin for lieutenant governor.
In the race for the Senate nomination, county Democrats gave Sestak, a U.S. Congressman from Newtown Square, a 3,645 to 2,489 victory over incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter, the 80-year-old Philadelphian who was a Republican prior to his changeover last year. Sestak won the statewide balloting, 564,169 to 481,351.
Sestak will face Pat Toomey, a former congressman from Lehigh County, in the General Election, Toomey having clobbered Peg Luksik, 3,426 to 506 among county Republicans and 666,870 to 151,734 statewide to win that nomination.
Onorato, the Allegheny County executive, won here with 3,229 votes, easily outdistancing three other Democrats, Auditor General Jack Wagner, Anthony Williams, a state senator from Philadelphia, and Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel. Wagner tallied 1,309 votes in the county, followed by Hoeffel with 668 and Williams with 654.
Overall, Onorato won the state with 459,530 votes. Wagner was second with 246,842; Williams, third with 183,094; and Hoeffel, fourth with 129,379 votes.
On the Republican side, Attorney General Tom Corbett prevailed easily and will meet Onorato in November. Corbett won Carbon 2,573 to 1,460 and won the statewide balloting by a margin of 584,606 to 266,389.
In the lieutenant governor's race, the statewide Democratic winner was H. Scott Conklin of Philipsburg, a state representative from Centre County, whereas Corbett's runningmate will be Bucks County Commissioner Jim Cawley, of Langhorne, who survived a nine-person race.
The Carbon Democrats gave Conklin a victory locally with 2,240 votes. He defeated Doris Smith-Ribner of Philadelphia, who served on the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania before retiring, who tallied 1,805 votes here, and former Philadelphia City controller Jonathan Saidel, who collected 1,100 votes.
Overall, Conklin won the state with 316,192 votes, followed by Saidel with 311,538 and Smith-Ribner with 266,325.
On the Republican side locally, county GOP voters favored Luzerne County Commissioner Stephen Urban among the nine candidates. He received 1,103 votes, although he finished seventh in the state. Besides Urban's total, the local GOP vote totals for lieutenant governor included: Chet Beiler of Manheim, a business owner and CEO, 788; Cawley, 601; John Kennedy of Camp Hill, a railroad consultant and real estate developer, 332; Steve Johnson of York, a business owner, 278; Daryl Metcalfe, a six-term House of Representatives member from Butler County, 237; Jean Craige Pepper of Erie, a financial adviser, 232; Russ Diamond of Annville, an entrepreneur who founded PACleanSweep in 2005, 101; and Billy McCue of Monongahela, a self-employed businessman, 63.
The statewide balloting for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor went this way: Cawley, 209,191; Beiler, 163,742; Metcalf, 101,224; Johnson, 83,634; Kennedy, 72,366; Pepper, 66,489; Urban, 35,681; Diamond, 35,676; and McCue, 27,957.
The only other race on the ballot was for the Democratic nomination for the 14th Senatorial District seat from which longtime Senator Raphael Musto is retiring. There, current Pa. House member John Yudichak of Nanticoke defeated Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton by a margin of 17,903 to 9,091.
The district includes parts of Luzerne Carbon and Monroe counties. In the Carbon balloting, which included Banks, Kidder, Lausanne, Lehigh, Mahoning and Packer townships and Beaver Meadows, East Side, Jim Thorpe, Lansford, Lehighton, Nesquehoning, Summit Hill, Weatherly and Weissport boroughs, Yudichak won by a difference of 2,063 to 1,751.
He will face Steve Urban in November as the Luzerne commissioner was unopposed yesterday on the GOP side and received 1,865 token votes in Carbon and 8,918 overall. Betsy Summers, a Libertarian Party candidate, will also be in that race in November.