Free ride: Too many legislators face too little opposition

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It’s too early for most voters to focus on this year’s legislative elections. The Pennsylvania primary is May 20 and the general election is eight months away.

But when voters do start comparing candidates, many in Allegheny County will be surprised to learn that they have none to compare.

That’s because, of the 23 state House and Senate districts in the county with an election this year, 11 of the incumbents on the ballot will have a free ride — no opponent in the primary and none in November, according to the unofficial candidates list compiled by the Pennsylvania Department of State.

The other 12 districts will have contested elections between incumbent and challenger, either in the spring, the fall or both. In a healthy two-party system, that’s how it should be. Officeholders, even the good ones, should face competition every time they come up for election. Not this year, though, for voters in 48 percent of the local districts on the ballot.

Sir Winston Churchill said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others. In Allegheny County, we’re closer to all the others.

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