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Petrarca wins 55th District race |

Petrarca wins 55th District race

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Tuesday, November 8, 2016 10:18 p.m
State Rep. Joe Petrarca, D-Washington Township

Incumbent Democratic state Rep. Joseph Petrarca won a 12th term representing the 55th District.

Petrarca defeated political newcomer Michael Geiselhart, with about 56 percent of the votes compared to Geiselhart’s 44 percent.

The vote breakdown was about 15,500 votes for Petrarca to almost 12,000 votes for Geiselhart.

Petrarca, 55, said he was humbled and happy with the results, especially “in light of how well Donald Trump did in our area.”

“The Trump numbers are very good,” he said. “That obviously had an effect on races down-ticket. In light of how well he did, I’m fortunate here.”

When reached by the Tribune-Review before all votes had been counted Tuesday night, Geiselhart, 23, said he was not yet ready to concede and was awaiting more results.

“I like to hold out until the very end,” Geiselhart said late Tuesday. “That’s kind of like my athletic mentality. You never give up until you know the results 100 percent.”

In the Alle-Kiski Valley, the 55th House district includes Apollo, Avonmore, Bell Township, East Vandergrift, Hyde Park, Leechburg, Oklahoma Borough, Parks Township, Vandergrift, Washington Township and West Leechburg.

Most of the district is within Westmoreland County. There, Petrarca beat Geiselhart by the same margin he won the overall district, 56 percent to 44 percent.

Both candidates reside in Washington Township.

Geiselhart, who works as a cement contractor for his family’s construction and landscaping business, had promised to bring a “blue collar” perspective to Harrisburg. He said he was proud of his effort in his first election.

“It’s not just about this election. It’s the amount of people I’ve been able to inspire through this process,” he said. “No one can hold you back from doing the things you want to do.”

In winning re-election, Petrarca will surpass the tenure of his father, also named Joseph Petrarca, who held the office from 1973 to 1994, the year his son was first elected. The elder Petrarca died in March 1995.

Petrarca chairs the House Judiciary Committee and touted his experience in asking voters to keep him in office.

“I work hard at this,” Petrarca said. “I look forward to continuing to represent this area to the best of my ability.”

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4701 or at

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff reporter. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701 or

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