The Incline in Harrisburg

Your complete guide to Allegheny County’s contested state races

We explain who’s running, how much they’ve raised in 2018, and whether the district went Clinton or Trump.

Students vote in the 2016 election at the William Pitt Union at the University of Pittsburgh.

Students vote in the 2016 election at the William Pitt Union at the University of Pittsburgh.

Jasmine Goldband / The Incline
Sarah Anne Hughes

Updated: Aug. 1, 11:45 a.m.

With the primary behind us and the November election four months away, you might think you can safely disregard state politics for the summer.

But if you live in one of the below districts, you’ll have a choice to make this fall — and now is the perfect time to vet the candidates in person. With the General Assembly on recess from now until September, there will be plenty of opportunities to meet your reps and their challengers.

Here’s a guide to which races are contested, who’s running, how much they’ve raised in 2018, and whether or not the district went for Hillary Clinton or President Donald Trump in 2016. (Don’t know which districts you live in? Find out here.)

Pa. House

District 23

Democrat: Dan Frankel | $41,818
Green Party: Jay Walker | No reports
Clinton-Trump margin: 80.06 percent to 16.36 percent

Green Party candidate Jay Walker collected enough signatures to secure his place on the ballot to face incumbent Democrat Dan Frankel. He could still face a signature challenge during the first week of August.

District 25

Democrat: Brandon Markosek | $19,720
Republican: Stephen Schlauch | $12,010
Clinton-Trump margin: 50.07 percent to 46.87 percent

After 35 years in the Pennsylvania House, Joseph Markosek is stepping down, and his 25-year-old son, Brandon, is vying to take his place. The younger Markosek previously worked for state Sen. Jim Brewster, while Republican Stephen Schlauch is a financial analyst who serves on the Plum Borough School Board.

District 28

Democrat: Emily Skopov | $26,395
Republican: Mike Turzai | $653,654
Clinton-Trump margin: 43.46 percent to 52.61 percent

Political newcomer Emily Skopov is attempting to take down the most powerful man in Harrisburg: House Speaker Mike Turzai. That’s going to be tricky considering Turzai’s immense financial and name-recognition advantage. Skopov has been endorsed by groups including Planned Parenthood and WTF Pittsburgh.

District 30

Democrat: Betsy Monroe | $12,177
Republican: Lori Mizgorski | No reports
Clinton-Trump margin: 44.48 percent to 51.61 percent

Hal English originally planned to defend his seat, but announced right before the Fourth of July holiday that he was dropping out. That could be good news for healthcare consultant Betsy Monroe, who is trying to ride the blue wave into the House. The Allegheny County GOP nominated English’s chief of staff, Lori Mizgorski, to take his place.

District 39

Democrat: Rob Rhoderick | $12,650
Republican: Mike Puskaric | $10,903.29
Clinton-Trump margin: 36.49 percent to 60.37 percent

Rick Saccone will not return to the Pa. House after unsuccessfully running for a congressional seat (twice). Title insurance businessman Mike Puskaric is running on a platform of conservative values like “Second Amendment rights,” while Elizabeth commissioner and chiropractor Rob Rhoderick is touting moderate stances like energy independence. Rhoderick also served as a legislative aide to state Rep. Bill Kortz, a right-leaning Democrat.

District 40

Democrat: Sharon Guidi | $8,716.24
Republican: Natalie Mihalek | $23,593.95
Clinton-Trump margin: 41.12 percent to 55.57 percent

Republican John Maher didn’t seek a 12th term. His seat will be occupied by either Natalie Mihalek, a veteran of the Navy and the Allegheny County DA’s office, or educator Sharon Guidi. Mihalek has called herself the new face of the Republican party.

District 44

Democrat: Michele Knoll | $28,224
Republican: Valerie Gaydos | $35,760.36
Clinton-Trump margin: 43.16 percent to 53.29 percent

Republican Mark Mustio is retiring. Valerie Gaydos, a business owner and one-time legislative aide to former state Sen. Mike Fisher, has described herself as “pro-life, pro-growth, and pro-business.” She’ll face educator and developmental therapist Michelle Knoll.

District 45

DemocratAnita Astorino Kulik | $20,735
Clinton-Trump margin: 49.81 percent to 46.66 percent

Conservative Democrat Anita Astorino Kulik will not face an opponent in November, after Green Party candidate Garrett Wasserman failed to turn in signatures by Aug. 1.

District 46

Democrat: Byron Timmins | $24,305
Republican: Jason Ortitay | $20,137.80
Clinton-Trump margin: 39.68 percent to 56.72 percent

Conservative incumbent Jason Ortitay, who owns Jason’s Cheesecake Company in Avella, will face retail veteran and pro-labor candidate Byron Timmins.

District 54

Democrat: Jon McCabe | $1,028
Republican: Bob Brooks | $61,975
Clinton-Trump margin: 34.91 percent to 61.80 percent

Republican Eli Evankovich is headed to the private sector. Favored to win the seat is former Murrysville Mayor Bob Brooks, who owns the Pittsburgh Indoor Sports Arena with his daughter. He’ll face 22-year-old recent college graduate Jon McCabe, who supports Medicare for All and an independent redistricting commission.

Pa. Senate

District 38

Democrat: Lindsey Williams | $70,178.01
Republican: Jeremy Shaffer | $519,758
Clinton-Trump margin: 48.32 percent to 47.83 percent

If you’re going to watch one race (don’t do that, pay attention to many), this is the one.

Moderate Republican Randy Vulakovich was successfully primaried by conservative engineer and business owner Jeremy Shaffer. He’ll face Lindsey Williams, who ran communications for the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers. Shaffer’s 2018 fundraising numbers dwarf Williams’ in large part because he’s loaned his campaign $435,000 so far.

As The Incline previously reported:

District 38 was represented by Jim Ferlo — one of the most progressive Democrats in the Senate — for more than a decade.

But when the state’s Legislative Reapportionment Commission redrew the boundaries after the 2010 census, the makeup of the district radically changed. Large chunks of Pittsburgh, including the North Side, were out; the North Hills and Wexford were in.

Ferlo decided to retire, in part, because of the new map.

Look at those Clinton-Trump numbers. This thing could be a nail-biter.

Want some more? Explore other The Incline in Harrisburg stories.