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Local Pa. voters to make statewide choices

May 16, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, PA.-- Voters headed to the polls Tuesday in Franklin and Fulton counties will be making choices in statewide races that are under a national spotlight.

Sen. Arlen Specter and his main Democratic challenger, Joe Sestak, a second-term congressman, spent the weekend stumping for votes in the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia areas. Recent polls put the two men neck and neck for the seat held for five terms by Specter, who switched parties last year after 28 years as a GOP senator.

The winner in the Democratic primary, which includes McKees Rocks, Pa., resident Joseph Vodvarka as a candidate, will face off against the Republican nominee this November. On the Republican side, front-runner Pat Toomey is competing against Johnstown, Pa.'s Peg Luksik.

Specter was recently joined at rallies by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, whose final term expires this year. Four Democrats and two Republicans are running for governor.

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On the Democratic side, polls show Allegheny County Executive Dan Onoroto leading Joe Hoeffel, Jack Wagner and Anthony Hardy Williams.

Republican state Attorney General Tom Corbett is running for governor against state Rep. Sam Rohrer of Berks County.

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, a Republican, is running for re-election in the Ninth District.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In Franklin County, state Reps. Rob Kauffman and Todd Rock, both Republicans, are unopposed for re-election to the 89th and 90th House Districts, respectively. State Rep. Dan Moul, whose 91st House District includes parts of Quincy and Guilford townships, also is unopposed in his re-election bid.

However, state Rep. Mark Keller from the 86th House District faces a challenge from fellow Perry County resident Michael J. Lapp.

Keller, 56, previously told The Herald-Mail he stands on his record and his accessibility to the people he represents.

Keller said increased spending needs to stop, saying he doesn't understand how the governor could propose more than $1 billion in new spending for 2010-11.

"The state needs to tighten its belt, too," he said.

Lapp, 48, said the Pennsylvania General Assembly is out of touch with working-class citizens. The legislature shouldn't be paid during the time its budget is overdue, he said.

"Harrisburg is a mess. The system is only good for the politicians," Lapp said.

The 86th House District serves Franklin and Perry counties, including parts or all of Fannett, Hamilton, Metal, St. Thomas and Peters townships. Keller has held the seat since he was elected in 2004.

In Pennsylvania, Republicans and Democrats vote for only their own party in the primary election.

Voter turnout in 2006, during the last gubernatorial race, was 18 percent for the primary, Franklin County Chief Registrar Jennie Aines said. Turnout for the 2002 primary was 16 percent, she said.

Fulton County voters will be facing the same decisions in the Senate and gubernotorial races. State Rep. Dick Hess, a Republican, is unopposed for re-election in the 78th House District.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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