Carbon County voters in both the Democratic and Republican parties have major decisions to make on Tuesday, April 24, when the Primary Election will be held. Voting will take place from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in each of the county's 51 election precincts.

On the Democratic side, voters have choices to make for the nominations for Pa. attorney general, representatives in the 11th and 17th Congressional districts and the nomination for the 122nd Legislative District of the Pa. House of Representatives.

The Republicans also have four contested races, in which voters will be asked to make decisions for nominees for President, U.S. Senate, Pa. auditor general and the nomination for the 29th Pa. Senatorial District.

President, U.S. Senate

Two Democratic incumbents are running on the Pa. ballot for re-election. They include President Barack Obama and U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey Jr. The president is unopposed. Casey has an opponent, Joseph Vodvarka of Allegheny County.

Also unopposed are the Democratic candidates for Pa. auditor general and state treasurer.

President Obama is awaiting determination of the Republican nominee. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is the front-runner and is on the Pa. ballot with three others, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pa., ex-U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich of Georgia and Texas Congressman Ron Paul.

Casey will face the winner of a six person race for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate. The Republicans will choose from a field that includes David Christian of Bucks County, Marc Scaringi of Cumberland County, Steven Welch of Chester County, Tom Smith of Armstrong County, Sam Rohrer of Berks County.

Pa. Senate, House

Meanwhile, for the first time as long as anyone can remember, there is a contest for the Republican nomination for the 29th Senatorial District of Pennsylvania. Sen. David Argall of Lake Hauto is being challenger by Brian Rich of Orwigsburg.

Argall is a freshman senator, having been elected in 2009. Previously, he served in the state House of Representatives since 1984. Rich is the president of the Reading Anthracite Company, Jack Rich, Inc., Keller Oil and Lehigh Fuels, having spent the last 25 years in the energy industry.

Whoever prevails in that race will face Democrat Timothy Seip of Washington Township, Schuylkill County, a former state representative who is a teacher at Kutztown University. Seip is unopposed on the Democratic ticket.

Since the plan was aborted by the court, the district will remain the same as the 2001 plan, meaning it will include the townships of East Penn, Franklin, Lower Towamensing, Penn Forest and Towamensing and the boroughs of Bowmanstown, Palmerton and Parryville in the county.

Other areas of Carbon County not mentioned above will continue to be a part of the 14th Senatorial District, where Sen. John Yudichak is the officeholder.

The 29th District also includes parts of Berks County; part of Lehigh County, including Heidelberg, Lynn and Washington townships and Slatington Borough; parts of Monroe County, including Eldred, Jackson, Polk and Tunkhannock townships; parts of Northampton County, including Lehigh Township and Walnutport Borough; as well as all of Schuylkill County.

In the 122nd Legislative District of the Pa. House of Representatives, Rep. Doyle Heffley of Lower Towamensing Township, a Republican, is unopposed. He was elected to the position in 2010. He awaits the winner of a Democratic race between Ronald Rabenold of Lehighton and Gerald Strubinger of Jim Thorpe. Rabenold is a teacher in the Lehighton Area School District. Strubinger is a member of the Jim Thorpe Area School District Board of Education.

As a result of the court ruling, all of Carbon County will remain in the 122nd District of the state House.

Congressional races

Carbon Democratic voters will participate in two congressional races.

In the 11th District, the candidates are Bill Vinsko, an attorney from Luzerne County, and Gene Stilp, a non-practicing attorney from Dauphin County. The winner of that race will face incumbent Republican Rep. Lou Barletta of Hazleton, who is unopposed in the Primary.

Barletta won the 11th District seat in 2010, defeating then Congressman Paul Kanjorski after two unsuccessful tries. He is the former mayor of Hazleton.

The 11th District, where Carbon previously belonged as a whole, is changed dramatically, but still includes the townships of Banks, Kidder, Lausanne, Lehigh, Packer and Penn Forest and the boroughs of Beaver Meadows, East Side and Weatherly in Carbon County.

The district also includes parts of Cumberland, Dauphin, Luzerne, Northumberland and Perry counties and all of Columbia, Montour and Wyoming counties.

In the 17th District, the Democratic candidates are incumbent Rep. Tim Holden of St. Clair and Matthew Cartright of Lackawanna County. Holden has served in the U.S. House since 1993 and is the dean of the Pennsylvania delegation. Cartright is a Scranton attorney with Munley, Munley and Cartright.

The winner of the Primary will face Laureen Cummings of Lackawanna County, a nurse who owns Lorimar Home Care & Staffing Services, Inc. She is the lone GOP candidate.

The district includes the Carbon townships of East Penn, Franklin, Lower Towamensing, Mahoning and Towamensing and the boroughs of Bowmanstown, Jim Thorpe, Lansford, Nesquehoning, Palmerton, Parryville, Summit Hill and Weissport.

It also includes parts of Lackawanna County, including the City of Scranton, Luzerne County, including the City of Wilkes-Barre, Monroe County and Northampton County, including the City of Easton, as well as all of Schuylkill County.

State row offices

Democrats Rep. Eugene DePasquale, a third term state representative from York County, is running unopposed for the auditor general nomination and state Treasurer Robert McCord of Montgomery County is unchallenged in his bid for re-election to a second four-year term.

DePasquale will go against the winner of a GOP race between Frank Pinto of Dauphin County, the president and CEO of the Pa. Association of Community Bankers, and John Maher, a state representative from Allegheny County.

McCord will face Republican Diana Irey Vaughan, a Washington County commissioner. She is the lone GOP candidate for treasurer.

The contested Democratic races include one state row office attorney general. The candidates are Patrick Murphy, an attorney from Bucks County who formerly served in the U.S. Congress, and Kathleen Kane, a former assistant district attorney in Lackawanna County. Whoever prevails will run in November against Republican David Freed, the current Cumberland County District Attorney.

Delegates

Voters in both parties will also participate in balloting for the positions of delegates to the Democratic and Republican National conventions. A story on those candidates appeared earlier in last week's TIMES NEWS. Those candidates include Democrat William O'Gurek Jr. of Summit Hill, who is running to be a delegate in the 17th Congressional District, and Republicans Gretchen Sterns of Orwigsburg and Maria Montero of Tamaqua, who are running to be delegates in the same district.