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GOP has big night in Franklin County

November 09, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - It was an election of lopsided margins of victory for Democratic candidates in Tuesday's statewide races, but majority control of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives comes down to whether a Republican can hold a razor-thin lead in Chester County.

Republicans went in to the election holding 109 of the 203 House seats, but had a 102-101 seat edge over the Democrats Wednesday, said state Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-89th. That majority, he said, hangs on Republican Shannon E. Royer's 19-vote lead over Democrat Barbara McIlvaine Smith in a bid for an open seat in the 156th District.

Kauffman had 13,474 votes, for 70 percent of the total, in his race against Democratic challenger Andrew Alosi, who finished at 30 percent with 5,813 votes. Kauffman, who won a second two-year term, said statewide results leave House Republicans little leeway in influencing state politics.

"We don't even have one vote to spare to work toward our agenda," Kauffman said. "The Republican caucus had a difficult enough time being conservative when we had a larger majority."

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"Most of the losses on the Republican caucus side were in direct correlation to the (Gov. Edward) Rendell tidal wave in the southeast" of the state, Kauffman said. The general election, however, "doesn't have as many lessons as the primary did."

In the primary, a number of prominent Republicans, including Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Jubelirer, R-Fulton, and Senate Majority Leader Chip Brightbill, R-Lebanon, lost to challengers from their own party as voters reacted to the General Assembly voting itself a hefty pay raise in 2005.

A senior Democrat also was a casualty in Tuesday's election, Kauffman said, with state Rep. Mike Veon of Beaver County, the second-ranking House Democrat, losing his seat. Veon cast the lone vote against repealing the pay raise, Kauffman said.

In Franklin County, where Republicans outnumber Democrats 2-1, the voting ran contrary to the statewide trend.

While Rendell got 60 percent of the vote to defeat GOP nominee Lynn Swann, and Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. received almost 59 percent of the vote in ousting Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, Franklin County voters went the opposite direction.

Swann tallied 25,932 votes for 60.5 percent in the county, while Rendell had 39 percent of the vote with 16,886, according to complete, but unofficial results from the Franklin County Election Board. Santorum received 26,411 votes for 61 percent to Casey's 16,653 for 39 percent.

In the 9th District race for the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster got 120,199 votes, or 60 percent, in his bid for re-election against Democrat Tony Barr, who had 78,813 votes for 40 percent, according to unofficial results posted by the Pennsylvania Department of State. In Franklin County, Shuster garnered 64 percent support with 27,548 votes, compared to 35 percent for Barr with 15,191 votes.

In a race between two Republicans, Todd A. Rock defeated incumbent state Rep. Patrick E. Fleagle, who was the Democratic nominee for the 90th District seat, 54 percent to 46 percent in the only relatively close race of the night.

State Rep. Mark Keller, R-Franklin, was unopposed in his bid for a second term, and in the 91st District, which extends into Franklin County, Republican Dan Moul held off Democrat Patrick L. Naugle and Green Party candidate Lynn Smallwood. The seat is held by state Rep. Stephen Maitland, whom Moul defeated in the primary.

Fifty-two percent of the more than 82,000 registered voters in the county went to the polls, compared to 48 percent in the 2002 midterm election, according to county figures.

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