Winners: Sestak, Onorato, Corbett, Critz, DeWeese
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As expected, Republican Tom Corbett and Democrat Dan Onorato won their respective primaries for the nomination for governor. But Joe Sestak pulled off a win against longtime senator Arlen Specter, while embattled state legislator Bill DeWeese hung on to his seat in the 50th District. In the nationally charged race for the seat of John Murtha, his former aide Mark Critz also hung on to win against a strong challenge from Tim Burns.
Mr. Sestak pulled ahead soon after the returns began to come in. Though Mr. Specter handily won his home base of Philadelphia, Mr. Sestak built his margin around the state.
In a brief concession speech, Mr. Specter thanked his family, his staff and "most of the media in the Western Hemisphere" who descended upon Philadelphia for the end of an era.
"It's been a great privilege to serve the people of Pennsylvania," he said. "And it's been a great privilege to be in the United States Senate, and I'll be working very, very hard for people of the Commonwealth in the coming months. Thank you all."
The loss brings the apparent end to a remarkable political career for Mr. Specter, 80, whose first campaign was in 1965 for District Attorney of Philadelphia. Then he was a Democrat running as a Republican in defiance of the city's party machine. This time, he was embraced by the Democratic Party for ditching Republicans a year ago.
From President Barack Obama to Gov. Ed Rendell, the establishment lined up behind Mr. Specter, who ended up giving U.S. Senate Democrats, for a time, a filibuster-proof 60-40 majority.
But Mr. Sestak, a former Navy admiral who had been courted for a run before Mr. Specter's switch, refused to back down. Citing principle over politics for his party choice, Mr. Sestak successfully convinced the state's Democratic primary voters that he was the better choice.
Earlier tonight, the AP pronounced former Rep. Pat Toomey, of Allentown, the victor in the Republican primary over Johnstown activist Peg Luksik. Mr. Specter left the GOP to avoid another primary matchup with Mr. Toomey, who narrowly lost to Mr. Specter in 2004.
Tom Corbett easily locked up the GOP nomination for governor, and Dan Onorato won the Democratic nomination. But victories were expected.
Mark Critz defeated opponent Tim Burns in both the special election to fill the remaining months of John Murtha's District 12 seat and in the primary for the fall election.
Bill DeWeese defeatead Greene County Commissioner Pam Snyder in the Democratic primary for the District 50 seat. With 43 OF 44 precincts in Greene County reporting, unofficial results show DeWeese ahead 3,115 votes to Snyder's 2,597 votes. He is also still ahead in Fayette and Washington counties. DeWeese stafffers are comfortable calling him the winner, saying he's won precincts tonight that he's never won before.
Keith Rothfus defeated Mary Beth Buchanan in the 4th District GOP primary. The former U.S. attorney was beaten by Mr. Rothfus in every part of the district.
First Published May 18, 2010 9:29 pm