Endorsement for May primary close call for Rep. Ravenstahl

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State Rep. Adam Ravenstahl survived a surprisingly close challenge Sunday to win the Allegheny County Democratic Committee's endorsement for renomination in his North Side House race.

Mr. Ravenstahl won the party vote, 76-65, over Tom Michalow, a high school teacher vying with him for the 20th District's Democratic nomination in the May 20 primary.

It was the closest race in the daylong balloting in which the party's committee members, elected from each of the county's voting districts, make their pre-primary recommendations. In theory, the endorsements carry with them party's official support for the primary while serving as a guide to rank and file voters. As a practical matter, however, there is no penalty for committee members and other Democrats who choose to ignore the party choices.

In another contested legislative race, state Rep. Harry Readshaw easily defeated his Democratic colleague, Rep. Erin Molchany. The two incumbents were forced to compete with one another after redistricting combined their former seats. Roughly 70 percent of the voters in the newly configured 36th District are represented by Mr. Readshaw, and the party vote reflected that. Mr. Readshaw had 76 committee votes, while Ms. Molchany, who is supported by county Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, won just 24 votes.

In the only other contested legislative seat, incumbent Rep. Jake Wheatley turned aside a challenge from Mark Brentley Sr., a member of the Pittsburgh school board. In that district, the 19th, the tally was 57 for Mr. Wheatley and 39 for Mr. Brentley.

Politics editor James O'Toole: jotoole@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1562.

First Published March 9, 2014 7:13 PM

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