State Rep. Adam Ravenstahl fended off a history teacher's challenge Tuesday as he sought the Democratic nomination for a third term in a redrawn 20th District that still includes the part of the city where his family has deep roots.
Mr. Ravenstahl, 29, of Summer Hill, first elected to the House in 2010, was in a close race all night with Tom Michalow, 43, an Avalon council member and Northgate High School teacher.
In the fall, Mr. Ravenstahl faces Tom Fodi, 31, a Brighton Heights pastor who was unopposed for the Republican nomination. The district is predominately Democratic.
Mike Logan, spokesman for Mr. Michalow, said the candidate called Mr. Ravenstahl about 10 p.m. to say it appeared he had lost by a couple of hundred votes, according to unofficial results. "It was a good race," he quoted Mr. Michalow as saying.
Mr. Ravenstahl said he was excited by the prospect of a third term and hoped that the election of a Democratic governor and more Democratic lawmakers in the fall would yield a more favorable legislative climate.
"Obviously, it's been very frustrating with the Republican Party in control of the House and the Senate and the governor's mansion," he said.
Mr. Ravenstahl is the son of District Judge Robert Ravenstahl and the brother of former Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who decided not to seek re-election last year amid a federal probe of his police bureau.
There was speculation early in the race that Mr. Michalow would leverage criticism of the former mayor and the district's new look -- it gained territory in the suburbs -- to his advantage.
However, the district still includes much of the Ravenstahl family's North Side base, and despite his educator's credentials, Mr. Michalow lost the endorsement of two large teachers unions -- the Pennsylvania State Education Association and the Pennsylvania Federation of Teachers -- to Mr. Ravenstahl. Mr. Michalow did, however, win endorsements from Clean Water Action Pennsylvania, Laborers' District Council of Western Pennsylvania and Progress Pittsburgh.
While Mr. Ravenstahl won the county party's endorsement by a slim margin -- temporary boosting Mr. Michalow's campaign -- many of the area's Democratic lawmakers also lined up with the incumbent.
In announcing his campaign, Mr. Michalow, who lost a bid for Allegheny County Council in 2009, expressed concern about the shrinking middle class and state budget cuts in education. He also accused Mr. Ravenstahl of not being visible in the district.
But Mr. Ravenstahl defended his record of constituent service and his support of the middle class. He said he had spoken out against funding cuts to public and higher education. He said he also had worked to resolve the UPMC-Highmark dispute and co-sponsored legislation for equal pay and to boost the minimum wage.
Joe Smydo: 412-263-1548.