Campaign 2012: House, Senate races in April 24 primary heat up

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Nominations for all 203 state House seats -- and half of the state Senate seats -- will be determined in the April 24 primary election. Many incumbents are unopposed, but there are a few races attracting attention -- and candidates.

In one House district, the 39th located south of Pittsburgh, a rematch of a close 2010 race may take place.

Former state Rep. David Levdansky is attempting to take back the seat he narrowly lost in 2010 to Republican Rep. Rick Saccone.

Mr. Levdansky, from Forward is opposed in the Democratic primary by Robert Rhoderick of Elizabeth Township and Dan Connolly of South Park.

Mr. Levdansky, 57, held the legislative seat for 25 years. He is married, and has two bachelor's degrees from Penn State University, one in political science and the other labor studies, and a master's degree in economics at Notre Dame.

Mr. Rhoderick, 41, is owner and operator of Rhoderick Chiropractic Clinic. He has been a legislative aide to state Rep. Bill Kortz and is on the Elizabeth Forward school board. He is married and is a graduate of the Palmer College of Chiropractic Medicine in Iowa.

Mr. Connolly did not return calls for information.

Incumbent Mr. Saccone of Elizabeth Township is being challenged for the Republican nomination by Shauna D'Alessandro of Jefferson Hills.

Mr. Saccone, 53, graduated from Weber State University, Utah, and the Naval Postgraduate School and has a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh. He is married and was formerly an assistant professor at Saint Vincent College and a counterintelligence officer for the U.S. Air Force.

Ms. D'Alessandro, 55, is a self-employed certified public accountant. She is married and graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a degree in accounting. She has been on the Jefferson Hills school board for eight years, three of them as president.

Here are other contested legislative races in Allegheny, Westmoreland and Washington counties:

The only primary race for the state Senate is in the 37th District to the west of Pittsburgh. Republican Rep. John Pippy of Moon is not seeking re-election.

Vying for the GOP nomination will be D. Raja, who unsuccessfully ran for Allegheny County executive last year. Mr. Raja, 46, is a Mt. Lebanon business executive.

Also running are state Rep. Mark Mustio, 54, of the 44th District and Sue Means, 60, of Bethel Park.

Mr. Mustio is also running unopposed for the Republican nomination to his seat. He has been in the Legislature since 2003 and is a graduate of Grove City College.

Mrs. Means has been on the Bethel Park Republican Committee for 19 years and on the state committee since 2009. She lobbied for the first state law legalizing home schooling 20 years ago. She graduated from West Virginia University with a nursing degree.

No Democrats filed for the race.

Here are contested races for House seats in the four counties:

Allegheny County

• 20th District: Incumbent Rep. Adam Ravenstahl, 27, of Pittsburgh, was elected in 2010, and is being challenged for the Democratic nomination by Mark Purcell of Ross and David Schuilenburg of Pittsburgh.

Rep. Ravenstahl, brother of Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, graduated in 2007 from Robert Morris University with a degree in business management. He is engaged to be married, and was a business analyst for UPMC.

Mr. Purcell, 65, lost to Mr. Ravenstahl in 2010. He was a Ross commissioner for 20 years, is married, and served as chief of staff for state Rep. William Kortz.

Mr. Schuilenburg, 38, is a 911 telecommunications officer. He is a Democratic committeeman and attended college in Montreal and the University of Pittsburgh. He is divorced, and ran unsuccessfully for Pittsburgh City Council in 2006 and 2007.

22th District: This is the seat vacated by Democrat Chelsa Wagner, who was elected last year as Allegheny County controller.

Martin Schmotzer, Erin Molchany and Shawn Lunny are seeking the Democratic nomination.

Mr. Schmotzer, 55, of Whitehall, was on the Baldwin-Whitehall school board for 10 years, and has been on the Democratic state committee for 20 years. He is the owner of BABS Associates, a direct mail company. Mr. Schmotzer is married and is a graduate of St. Fidelis College Seminary in Herman, Pa.

Ms. Molchany, 34, of Mount Washington, is the former executive director of the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project, a group with 6,000 members and a goal of keeping young people in the city. She is single and graduated from Duquesne University.

Mr. Lunny, 26, of Brookline, is a software engineer in Green Tree. He graduated with an economics and computer science degree from the University of Pittsburgh, and a master's degree in business administration in information technology from Point Park University.

One candidate, Chris Cratsley of Pittsburgh, is seeking the Republican nomination.

In addition to the primary for the two-year seat, the state Supreme Court has ordered that a special election be held in the primary to fill the vacant seat through Nov. 30. Each state party committee will nominate a candidate who will appear on the ballot.

24th District: Longtime Incumbent Democrat Joseph Preston of East Liberty is being challenged for his party's nomination by Edward Gainey, Todd Koger and William Anderson. No Republicans filed.

Mr. Preston, 64, has been in office since 1983, is married, and has a bachelor's degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

Mr. Gainey, 41, is a development specialist in Mayor Ravenstahl's office and is chair of the city's Democratic committee. He is a former aide to Rep. Preston, and ran against his former boss in 2004 and 2006. Mr. Gainey, who is married, lives in the Lincoln-Lemington neighborhood.

Mr. Koger, 50, of Wilkinsburg, is an attorney, and former science teacher. He graduated from California University of Pennsylvania and Duquesne University School of Law. He ran as an independent against Mr. Preston in 2006.

Mr. Anderson, 39, of East Liberty, owns an auto body shop in Homewood.

25th District: Incumbent Democrat Joseph Markosek, who is a 30-year veteran of the Legislature, is the only candidate for file for the Democratic nomination.

But Plum Councilman Mike Doyle and John Yakim of Monroeville are running for the GOP nomination to oppose him in the fall.

Mr. Doyle, 46, who unsuccessfully ran against Mr. Markosek in 2010, is vice president and manager for Excalibur Insurance Management Services. He is married and has a business administration and marketing degree from King's College in Wilkes-Barre.

Mr. Yakim, 46, is a pharmacist at Yakim's Compounding Pharmacy in Pitcairn. He is married and graduated from Duquesne University's School of Pharmacy. He ran unsuccessfully for Monroeville council last year.

45th District: On the Democratic ballot, incumbent Rep. Nick Kotik of Robinson will face Maribeth Taylor of McKees Rocks.

Mr. Kotik, 61, has been in the Legislature since 2003. He is married and is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a degree in public administration.

Maribeth Taylor, 53, is a McKees Rocks councilwoman. She is a consultant to the McKees Rocks Community Development Corp. She is married and graduated with a certificate from Parkway West Technical School.

On the Republican ballot, the lone candidate is Aaron Kime, of South Fayettte.

Westmoreland County

56th District: Incumbent George Dunbar of Penn Township is the lone candidate on the Republican ticket.

On the Democratic ballot, Marybeth Kuznik of Penn Township and Raymond Bud Geissler of Irwin are seeking their party's nomination.

Ms. Kuznik, 56, is executive director of VotePa, a statewide organization set up in 2005 to ensure voter rights and the integrity of voting machines. She is a Democratic state committeewoman. She is single and has a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Pittsburgh and a bachelor of music education degree from Seton Hill University.

Mr. Geissler, 40, is self-employed as a travel broker who works with school districts to set up student trips. He is married and a graduate of Duquesne University.

Washington County

49th District: Longtime Democratic Incumbent Peter Daley of California Borough is facing a familiar challenger: Randy Barli of Coal Center who ran unsuccessfully in 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010.

Mr. Daley, 61, has been a lawmaker since 1983. He is married and has a bachelor's degree from California University of Pennsylvania, a master's degree in public administration from the University of Pittsburgh, and a law degree from Widener University.

Mr. Barli, 56, is a retired miner and electrical contractor. He has an associate degree in engineering from Penn State University.

Richard Massafra of Monongahela is the lone candidate on the GOP ballot. He ran unsuccessfully against Mr. Daley in 2010.

For a complete list of state candidates see

Debra Duncan, freelance writer: .


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