State Democratic Party picks candidate for 35th District special election
Austin Davis, a Democratic Party leader and assistant to Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, received the party’s nomination Monday for a special election to represent the 35th state legislative district.
Davis, 28, of McKeesport is the party’s pick for the Jan. 23 election to replace former state Rep. Marc Gergely, who resigned Nov. 6.
He announced his candidacy in September, and the state Democratic Party’s executive committee nominated him Sunday. Republicans haven’t announced a nominee.
Davis is vice chair of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee and Fitzgerald’s executive assistant. He is a University of Pittsburgh graduate with a bachelor’s degree in political science who has been involved in civic and political activities since high school.
“As a state representative, Austin will stand for stable jobs with livable wages, for expanded infrastructure investment throughout Southwest Pennsylvania and for public education throughout Pennsylvania,” state party chairman Marcel L. Groen said in a statement. “He will be a strong ally in Harrisburg in the fight against the opioid epidemic. I know that he will make the people of the 35th House District proud as their representative.”
The 35th legislative district includes McKeesport, Munhall, White Oak, Clairton, Duquesne, Versailles, Whitaker, Lincoln, South Versailles and part of West Mifflin.
Gergely, a Democrat from White Oak, pleaded guilty in August to two misdemeanor charges related to his role in an illegal gambling machine ring.
He was first elected to the 35th legislative district seat in 2002. He won re-election by about 42 percentage points in 2014, a year after his name was linked to the gambling ring; and by about 25 points last November, eight months after he was charged for his role in it.
A state grand jury presentment said Gergely used his position and influence to try to calm jittery business owners who were leery about putting gambling machines owned by Ronald “Porky” Melocchi in their businesses. Melocchi’s gambling ring was worth more than $1 million when authorities raided it in 2013. He was sentenced last year to 10 years of probation.
Wes Venteicher is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5676, [email protected] or via Twitter @wesventeicher.