Primary choices: In Allegheny County, it’s a day for Democrats

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Democrats on the ballot in Tuesday’s primary are battling from the top of the ticket for the gubernatorial nomination all the way down through contests for the state House. By contrast, there’s not one contested race for state office among Republican candidates in Allegheny County.

Beginning in early March, Post-Gazette editorial writers interviewed 23 of the contenders and, during the past three weeks, we have published our recommendations for voters. What follows is a recap of our endorsements.

Governor

The election to determine who will run against Gov. Tom Corbett in the fall has, naturally, drawn the most interest and the most campaign contributions. It also has attracted a slate of four experienced candidates.

Tom Wolf, a York County business owner and former state revenue secretary, stands out as the one who most ably can take his party’s fight to the Republican incumbent. With a significant boost from the extensive advertising buys he made using his own fortune, Mr. Wolf soared to the top in polling early and appeared to be sustaining that lead last week. His campaign, however, has a lot more going for it than money.

He successfully shepherded and then vastly expanded a family business in the private sector, and he has a detailed understanding of Pennsylvania’s tax structure, with solid ideas for how to improve it, learned on the job in the Cabinet of former Gov. Ed Rendell.

As to major issues, he’s generally in sync with the views of his Democratic rivals. He wants to squeeze more revenue from the Marcellus Shale drilling industry, increase the state’s overall share of public school funding and energize Pennsylvania on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr. Wolf has taken heat for his friendship with a now-disgraced mayor of York and a former state representative convicted in the Bonusgate scandal, but his own ethical practices while in state government are laudable. He donated his salary to charity and refused other benefits that came with the position.

Lt. Governor

Five candidates are seeking the second slot on the Democratic ticket, and former U.S. Rep. Mark Critz of Johnstown understands completely the nature of service as No. 2. As a longtime aide to the late John Murtha in the U.S. House, he learned how to support the boss and advance his agenda, an essential skill in the state Legislature, where the lieutenant governor presides as head of the Senate.

U.S. House

In the 12th District, Democratic newcomer Erin McClelland can provide a passionate challenge to Republican incumbent Keith Rothfus in the fall. Ms. McClelland, who started a nonprofit that specializes in addiction treatment, is well-versed on the important subject of health care and she is not likely to be hamstrung by ideology in bipartisan problem-solving.

In the 14th District, 20-year incumbent Mike Doyle is the obvious choice over a nominal challenger, and no Republican is on the ballot to oppose him in November.

State House

The most interesting race for nomination to a seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives pits two incumbents in the redrawn 36th District, combining parts of the area represented by Harry Readshaw for 20 years with parts represented by Erin Molchany for two years. The advantage goes to Ms. Molchany, an enthusiastic champion of Pittsburgh with the smarts and work ethic to succeed in Harrisburg. There is no Republican on the ballot.

Democratic voters in other districts should give their party’s nomination to five incumbents who are opposed in the primary: Adam Ravenstahl in the 20th District, Ed Gainey in the 24th, Dan Deasy in the 27th, Anthony DeLuca in the 32nd and Jesse White in the 46th.

Meet the Editorial Board.


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