Republicans plan Mon-Yough area legislative write-in campaigns
Republicans are running write-in campaigns for two legislative seats that include the cities of McKeesport, Duquesne and Clairton.
“There is a write-in effort being put together,” Ken Peoples of White Oak said about his renewed bid in the 35th Legislative District. “We are going to see what we can do.”
Peoples, the White Oak Republican Committee chairman, was bumped off the May 20 ballot by court order for insufficient signatures on his petition.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh Republicans are promoting Bob Howard, a former candidate for Allegheny County controller from the North Hills, for the GOP nod in the 14th Congressional District where U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, seeks an 11th term.
“He has not been paying attention to the district as he should,” Pittsburgh GOP committee chairman Bob Hillen said. “There are a lot of things he hasn't done.”
The 14th District additionally covers much of Allegheny County, including the city of Pittsburgh, and the cities of New Kensington and Arnold in Westmoreland County. The 35th District extends from Munhall to White Oak and Clairton to North Versailles.
Howard has more than three decades of experience in fiscal activity at PPG Industries and is a former North Allegheny school director.
He ran an unsuccessful 2011 campaign against former state Rep. Chelsa Wagner, D-Beechview, for county controller.
“(Howard) is overqualified to be a congressman,” Hillen said.
Hillen pointed to infrastructure issues including a lack of progress in the Route 51 corridor between the Mon/Fayette Expressway and Pittsburgh.
“They've been studied to death,” Hillen said.
Doyle squares off against the Rev. Janis C. Brooks of North Versailles Township in a rematch for the Democratic nomination.
In 2012 Doyle defeated Brooks, pastor of the Church of Inclusion International Ministries and founder of Citizens to Abolish Domestic Apartheid, in the spring, then Republican nominee Dr. Hans F. Lessmann of Forest Hills in the fall.
Allegheny County Elections Division manager Mark Wolosik said Howard needs a minimum of 1,000 write-in votes, while Peoples needs at least 300.
“You need as many write-in votes as signatures on a nominating petition,” Wolosik said.
Write-ins may be easier with new electronic machines in use for the past several years in Allegheny County.
“It seems like the new machines, we have more write-ins than when we had the old lever machines,” Wolosik said. “Instead of having to see what the assigned write-in slot is and write the name or put in a sticker, you can just touch ‘write in' and the screen comes up.”
The screen includes a keyboard that can be used to type in the name of a write-in candidate.
In the 35th Peoples is concerned about supporters of incumbent Rep. Marc J. Gergely, D-White Oak, interfering with his effort.
Gergely is running for a seventh term and has no opposition in the Democratic primary. He could not be reached for comment at presstime.
The wife of a Gergely relative, Carrie Mooney Gergely, was one of two registered Republicans who successfully challenged Peoples' petition for a place on the GOP ballot on May 20.
Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia A. McCullough found that Peoples had only 291 legitimate signatures on his petition.
If Gergely or someone else decided to compete with Peoples for the GOP nod, Wolosik said, “each would need 300 and then whoever has the most votes would be nominated.”
Peoples declined to give details about how he would instruct voters, though he posted on Facebook Sunday, “We can make this happen. Please repost and spread the word.”
Peoples said he had organizational backing for his effort, but, “I will not expand on that.”
A staffer at the Republican Committee of Allegheny County said county party officials were aware of the Pittsburgh GOP campaign for Howard and the ballot challenge against Peoples, but that Peoples hadn't contacted them about his write-in effort.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or [email protected].