Several drop out of April 22 primary

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U.S. Reps. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, and John Murtha, D-Johnstown, won't have Republican opposition this fall unless someone wins a write-in campaign in the April 22 primary.

But after Friday's official withdrawal date, there will be heated Democratic primary races to choose challengers to go against U.S. Reps. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, and Phil English, R-Erie. U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire, D-McCandless, and Republican Melissa Hart of Bradford Woods have a rematch set for November.

Mr. Murtha had faced a challenge from former Army Lt. Col. William Russell, who moved to the Johnstown area so he could run as a Republican. But Commonwealth Court ruled last week that he failed to file the required 1,000 signatures on his nominating petition and removed him from the ballot, clearing the way for Mr. Murtha to run uncontested for his 18th term.

No one filed to run against Mr. Doyle in Pittsburgh and its eastern suburbs.

Only three potential Democratic challengers remain against Mr. Murphy after R. Wayne Dudding of Robinson withdrew from the race following a petition challenge. The remaining candidates are Beth Hafer of Mt. Lebanon, Steve O'Donnell of Monroeville and Brien Wall of Upper St. Clair.

Four Democrats will battle for the right to go against Mr. English. They are Tom Myers , Kathy Dahlkemper, Kyle Foust and Mike Waltner.

For state Senate, two Democrats and two Republicans are seeking the nomination for the 47th District seat in Beaver County, currently held by Gerald LaValle, who is not seeking re-election. The Democrats are state Rep. Sean M. Ramaley and Jason M. Petrella; the Republicans are Jeff Harris and Elder Vogel Jr. Democrat Joe Spanik withdrew.

In state House races, the biggest name to withdraw was former Rep. Frank J. Pistella, who lost re-election in the 21st District two years ago to Democratic newcomer Lisa Bennington of Morningside. When Ms. Bennington decided not to seek re-election, Mr. Pistella initially joined three other prominent Democrats seeking the nomination.

His withdrawal leaves former Pittsburgh police Chief Dom Costa, former City Councilman Len Bodack and Brenda Frazier, who resigned from Allegheny County Council to seek the nomination. No Republican filed.

Three other state House Democrats have no opposition after their Republican challengers withdrew: Reps. David Levdansky of Forward, Jesse White of Cecil and Joseph A. Petrarca of Vandergrift.

The final ballot is not official because there are petition challenges still being heard in some races.


Ed Blazina can be reached at eblazina@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1470.


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