32nd House District: DeLuca deserves the Democratic nomination

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Democratic voters in the state House’s 32nd District face a classic choice in the May 20 primary between a senior legislator seeking his 17th term and a young challenger with big ideas who thinks it’s time for a change.

The district is located in eastern Allegheny County and its new configuration under reapportionment, which takes effect in the next term, includes Penn Hills, Blawnox, Verona, about half of Plum and part of O’Hara.

It is a district where Rep. Anthony M. DeLuca, 76, of Penn Hills remains well-known. The Republicans, with no apparent taste for this fight, do not have a candidate on the ballot, which means the Democratic nominee is likely to win election in November.

Kristopher Wiegand, 38, also of Penn Hills, is trying his best as the challenger. An attorney, the enthusiastic Mr. Wiegand has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh, a master’s from its Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and a law degree also from Pitt.

He has a progressive agenda on social issues — pro-choice on abortion and in favor of allowing gay couples to marry. What he lacks is any service in public office. If he had that, some of his big ideas might be more realistic. For example, although Pennsylvania’s school funding formula unfairly favors rich districts over poor, Mr. Wiegand said he would offer legislation that caps how much an affluent district could spend on its students, then send any excess property tax revenue to Harrisburg for distribution to struggling districts.

Mr. DeLuca is a traditional Western Pennsylvania Democrat — pro-life, not comfortable with the idea of gay marriage — but he has 32 years of steady service in trying to better the lives of his constituents, a record even Mr. Wiegand does not dispute. As the leader for the Democratic minority on the House Insurance Committee, Mr. DeLuca is pushing legislation to solve the UPMC-Highmark dispute. He remains active and committed.

It’s a case of a veteran not ready to go and a challenger not ready for prime time. Mr. Wiegand may one day be a worthy successor, but first he needs some experience, perhaps from a local council or school board. The Post-Gazette endorses Anthony DeLuca for the Democratic nomination.

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