Primary candidates set for Pa. offices as deadline passes

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U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, has never had a really tough re-election fight since first winning the 18th District seat created for him by GOP mapmakers in the post-2000 redistricting, but this time around, it looks like he could have no opposition whatsoever.

No other Republican and no Democrat had bothered to file nominating petitions to challenge him by the Tuesday deadline. It's still conceivable that an independent could try to get on the ballot in the fall, and, in theory, a write-in candidate could try to grab the Democratic nomination in the May 20 primary or challenge him in the fall, but those are both tough roads for any potential contender.

As the deadline passed, the race for governor emerged with few surprises. Gov. Tom Corbett has a GOP challenger though not one that, even by his own analysis, has much chance or wresting the nomination from the incumbent. Robert Guzzardi, a conservative activist from Montgomery County, plans to use his candidacy as a vehicle to criticize Mr. Corbett's fiscal policies.

The big fields of candidates for the Democratic nominations for governor and lieutenant governor each lost one contender to the tough signature requirements to get on the primary ballot. But the leading candidates all filed, leaving little real change in the dynamics of either race.

Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz didn't make the Democratic cut, as she failed to meet the stiff signature requirement -- 2,000 Democratic voters including at least 100 from each of 10 counties. So, the final field of six includes U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, businessman Tom Wolf, former Auditor General Jack Wagner, state Treasurer Rob McCord, and two former state secretaries of environmental protection, John Hanger and Katie McGinty.

Brenda Alton, a former aide to the mayor of Harrisburg, missed the deadline to file her signatures in the lieutenant governor's race. That leaves as the Democratic contenders Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith, Harrisburg Councilman Brad Koplinski, state Sen. Mike Stack, state Rep. Brandon Neuman, former U.S. Rep. Mark Critz, and Jay Paterno, former Penn State University assistant football coach. Republican Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley was unopposed for renomination.

Mr. Murphy's Democratic neighbor, U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, appears equally secure in his re-election bid. But Mr. Doyle faces at least nominal opposition as Janis C. Brooks is taking another shot at the nomination she lost overwhelmingly in the last election cycle. No Republican filed for Mr. Doyle's 14th District seat.

The fields for the other congressional races in the region emerged as expected with all of the announced contenders filing nominating petitions.

In the 3rd District, Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Butler, is unopposed for the GOP nomination. Democratic newcomer Dan Lavelee is unopposed for the Democratic nomination there.

In the 12th District, Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, is unopposed in his party primary. Vying to challenge him on the Democratic side are Erin McClelland, a Harrison businesswoman, and John Hugya of Jenner, a former aide to the late Rep. John Murtha.

Politics editor James O'Toole: or 412-263-1562.

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