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Veteran legislator out in 24th District

Tom Fontaine

Pittsburgh’s Democratic Committee Chairman Ed Gainey ousted a 15-term legislator on Tuesday in a rematch of a 2006 race that pitted the former legislative staffer against his one-time boss.

Rep. Joseph Preston Jr., 64, of East Liberty was the lone Western Pennsylvania incumbent to lose in contested state House races.

Gainey, 42, of Lincoln-Lemington led Preston 66 percent to 34 percent in the 24th District with 95 percent of Allegheny County’s precincts reporting unofficial results. Gainey lost to Preston six years ago by 92 votes.

“I’m just humbled by this,” Gainey said as supporters celebrated at Capri Pizzeria in East Liberty.

“I believe this community was ready for change, ready for a new vision and ready for new leadership,” he said. Gainey, once Preston’s aide, resigned in January as a community development specialist for Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

Preston did not return a call for comment.

In a special election to complete County Controller Chelsa Wagner’s unexpired House term, former Baldwin-Whitehall school board member Martin Schmotzer, a Democrat from Whitehall, defeated Republican Chris Cratsley of Overbrook 56 percent to 38 percent in the 22nd District.

It was a bittersweet night for Schmotzer, 56, who did not return a call. In a contest for a full term in November, he finished a distant second to fellow Democrat Erin Molchany, 34, of Mt. Washington, 53 percent to 37 percent.

“What we fight for is what we care about, and elections make a difference,” said Molchany, who will face Cratsley, 31, who ran unopposed in the primary.

In other contested races, Bellevue Councilwoman Kathy Coder, 52, defeated Jeremy Angus, 22, of Harmony in a Republican primary for the 16th District, 72 percent to 28 percent. She will face two-term Democratic Rep. Rob Matzie, 43, of Ambridge in November.

Insurance executive Mike Doyle, 46, a Plum councilman, defeated pharmacist John G. Yakim, 46, of Monroeville in the 25th District Republican primary, 55 percent to 45 percent. He will try to unseat 15-term Rep. Joe Markosek of Monroeville in November.

The Republican and Democratic primaries were contested in the 39th District:

Republican Rick Saccone, 54, of Elizabeth Township and Democrat Dave Levdansky, 57, of Forward won easily to set up a November rematch of the 2010 race in which Saccone upset the 13-term incumbent Levdansky.

Rep. Adam Ravenstahl, 27, comfortably won a three-man Democratic primary in the North Side and North Hills and will run unopposed this fall. Ravenstahl collected 56 percent of the vote, compared with 36 percent for former Ross Commissioner Mark Purcell and 8 percent for county 911 officer Dave Schuilenberg.

Fellow incumbent Rep. Nick Kotik, 61, of Robinson defeated McKees Rocks Councilwoman Maribeth Taylor in the Democratic primary in the 45th District 81 percent to 19 percent. He will face unopposed Republican Aaron Klime, 40, of South Fayette in November.

In the 50th District Republican primary, former Homeland Security contractor Mark Fischer defeated George Toothman, 70 percent to 30 percent. Democratic Rep. Bill DeWeese ran unopposed for the seat he resigned before a judge sentenced him yesterday to up to 5 years in prison for corruption.


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