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‘Unopposed’ is key word in state House races

Published August 29. 2018 12:15PM

In a year when both major political parties are underscoring the importance of the midterm elections, 41 percent of all Pennsylvania House of Representatives seats are not contested going into the Nov. 6 general election. That’s right: 83 of the 203 seats have just one candidate, usually the incumbent (the person already holding the office).

The Democrats have been much more successful than the Republicans in filling ballot positions. The rate has been 2 to 1.

There are no Republicans in 56 state House districts and no Democrats in 27 others.

With half of the 50 state Senate seats up for re-election this year, just 24 percent of the districts have one candidate on the ballot. The Republicans were unable to fill five slots; the Democrats, just one.

In the Times News five-county area, there are eight House districts and two Senate districts where incumbents are unopposed. In the House, six Democrats and two Republicans face no opposition, while in the Senate, Democrats John Yudichak, whose district includes Carbon County, and Lisa Boscola, whose district includes parts of Lehigh and Northampton counties, will get a free ride.

Unopposed local legislators in the state House and their districts are Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh, (22); Neil Goodman, D-Schuylkill, (123); Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, (132); Jeanne McNeill, D-Lehigh, (133); Steve Samuelson, D-Lehigh and Northampton, (135); and Robert Freeman, D-Northampton, (136). Unopposed local House Republicans are Schuylkill legislators Jerry Knowles (124) and Mike Tobash (125). There appears to be no challenges by third-party candidates. The deadline for filing these nominating petitions was Aug. 1.

As far as statewide office, two third-party candidates filed before the Aug. 1 deadline for U.S. Senate. Neal Gale, a 66-year-old Montgomery County resident, filed on the Green Party ticket, while Dale Kerns, 34, of Delaware County, will be running under the Libertarian Party label. They join incumbent Democrat Bob Casey and Republican challenger Lou Barletta.

Two third-party candidates will join incumbent Democrat Tom Wolf and challenger Scott Wagner in the gubernatorial race. Paul Glover, 71, of Philadelphia, represents the Green Party, while Ken Krawchuk, 65, of Montgomery County, is running as a Libertarian.

Joining Glover as his Green Party running mate for lieutenant governor is Jocolyn Bowser-Bostick. 57, of Delaware County, while Kathy Smith of Pittsburgh is Krawchuk’s running mate for the Libertarian Party.

Until this year, it was a nightmare for third-party candidates to get on the general election ballot in Pennsylvania. They formerly needed to get nearly 22,000 signatures to run for governor or U.S. Senate, but in 2016, a federal court agreement lowered the number to 5,000. In local congressional races, Tim Silfies, 37, of Bethlehem, will run as a Libertarian Party candidate in the 7th District against Democrat Susan Wild and Republican Marty Nothstein. Silfies, son of Shelley Brown, president and CEO of the State Theatre in Easton, is a former employee of the Fox News Channel and the Fox Business Network. He recently resigned as a business reporter for WFMZ-TV in the Lehigh Valley.

Currently, this district is known as the 15th and does not have a representative in Congress. The incumbent, Republican Charlie Dent of Lehigh County, resigned at the end of May, seven months before the end of his two-year term. An occasional critic of President Donald Trump, Dent had previously announced that he would not seek re-election.

A special election will be held concurrently with the Nov. 6 general election to find a replacement to serve as 15th District representative for less than two months.

Following reapportionment earlier this year, the 15th District was reshaped into the 7th District, which now includes Lehigh, Northampton and part of the southern section of Monroe County. Voters on Nov. 6 also will vote to elect the person who will serve this new district for the next two years starting in January.

The chances of success for third-party candidates are equivalent to the odds of a camel going through the eye of a needle. Then, of course, there is an outside chance of an 11th hour write-in candidate showing up. Write-ins have even less chance than third-party candidates, but never say never. Let’s not forget this year’s Republican gubernatorial nominee, Scott Wagner, who in 2014 became the first write-in candidate ever to win election to the Pennsylvania State Senate.

By Bruce Frassinelli | tneditor@tnonline.com

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