Doyle Heffley has become the first Republican in 36 years to represent Carbon County in the Pa. General Assembly.
Heffley Tuesday soundly defeated his Democratic challenger, Justin Yaich, by 2,365 votes.
Yaich said his loss is reflective of the general mood of voters, stating, "The people in general are fed up with the government."
Not only is it the first time in more than 3 1/2 decades since a Republican occupied the seat, it's also the first time in that span that a member of the McCall family won't be serving.
Heffley succeeds state Rep. Keith McCall of Summit Hill, who was in the General Assembly for 28 years. This year McCall had attained the prestigious position of Speaker of the House. McCall opted not to seek re-election because he wants to spend more time with his family.
Keith McCall won the office that was occupied by his father, the late Thomas McCall, who had defeated incumbent Republican Joseph Semanoff in 1974 (when Heffley was just 4 years old). Thomas served until his untimely death from a heart attack on Christmas Eve in 1981. Keith successfully ran for his father's seat in 1982 at the age of 22, won, and has been re-elected each time since then.
Heffley, 40, of Lower Towamensing Township, won by a large margin, despite Yaich having McCall's endorsement.
Overall, Heffley unofficially received 10,817 votes (56.27 percent) to Yaich's 8,375 (43.56 percent).
Yaich, who is a member of Jim Thorpe Borough Council and former council president, out-polled Heffley by only 48 votes in the four districts of his hometown, with the tally being 935-887.
On the other hand, Heffley won in his home municipality of Lower Towamensing Township by a margin of 479-355, and in adjoining Palmerton by 704-546.
Lehighton voters vigorously backed Heffley, giving him a win in that town by a margin of 745-515.
Yaich won in Lansford (576-402), Nesquehoning (633-456), and Summit Hill (703-441).
Heffley won in every township by big margins: Franklin, East Penn, Mahoning, Kidder, Lausanne, Lehigh, Packer, Penn Forest, and Towamensing.
"I think it was just phenomenal," commented Heffley of yesterday's election result. "I'm humbled by the support I got. I'm excited by the opportunity to serve in the state House."
He admitted he was "somewhat surprised" by the margin of victory, but noted he was "optimistic" going into the race.
For Heffley, a consultant with a trucking company, it was his second attempt at winning the seat in the House of Representatives.
In 2008 he challenged McCall and was soundly beaten, losing by about 7,300 votes.
Yaich was gracious in defeat, calling Heffley and congratulating him.
Yaich said in an interview after the election results were tabulated, "I'm happy with the campaign we ran. I think we had a good campaign and I thank my supporters."
"Across the state people are not happy with government," he said.
He continued, "On a personal note, I'm very pleased with the campaign we ran. I called Mr. Heffley and I wished him the best."
Yaich also informed Heffley that if he can help the new representative in any way, that he gladly will.
Heffley's victory party was held in the Bowmanstown Fire Company. Several hundred people attendedthe modest affair.
There were two televisions in the hall where attendees could view updated election results.
With Heffley were his wife, Kellie, and their two daughters, Elizabeth, 13, who wore a "Vote for Heffley" T-shirt and Angela, 9.
Elizabeth said she was proud of her father and that his quest for office was "definitely worth it."
"I think he deserves it," she said. "He worked really hard."
Also present were his parents, Larry and Roberta Heffley.
Attending, too, was his present boss, Chris Silfies, vice president of operations of F. T. Silfies Trucking Company.
Heffley said that although he'll be spending a lot of time in Harrisburg between now and when he is sworn into office on Jan. 3, he'll continue working for Silfies until then.
"I still must pay bills and put food on my table," he said.
Silfies said he was pleased Heffley won, even though it means losing "a valuable employee."
He added, "We have him for another two months so we'll use his knowledge until then."
Heffley said, "I just want to give a big 'thank you' to everybody – family, friends, supporters. I will work for everybody in the county."