Election 2019

The Pittsburgh procrastinator’s guide to Pennsylvania’s 2018 midterm elections

Everything you need to know about the races for governor, senator, and more.

Clockwise from top left: Gov. Tom Wolf; Lindsey Williams; Scott Wagner; Jeremy Shaffer; Rep. Conor Lamb; Rep. Keith Rothfus

Clockwise from top left: Gov. Tom Wolf; Lindsey Williams; Scott Wagner; Jeremy Shaffer; Rep. Conor Lamb; Rep. Keith Rothfus

Courtesy candidate Facebook pages

Updated Oct. 24

OK, Allegheny County. It’s crunch time.

The midterm elections are Nov. 6, and Pennsylvanians will get to vote on several important races. All registered voters will have the option to cast a ballot for:

  • Governor and Lieutenant Governor
  • U.S. Senator
  • A member of U.S. Congress
  • A member of the Pa. House of Representatives

Before we dive into the options, here’s what you should do first:

  1. Confirm that you’re registered to vote. There’s no same-day registration in Pennsylvania.
  2. Use this tool to find out who your state representative and senator are.
  3. Find your address on this map if you’re still not sure which Congressional district you’re voting in this November (it’s OK to be confused):

It should be noted that not all races for Congress and the state House are contested, meaning you may not have an option beyond writing in an additional candidate. Some voters in Allegheny County will also cast ballots for state senator.

Also, we’ll continue updating this guide between now and Election Day, should anything change.

Got all that? Then on to the candidates. Click on a category below to jump to the section:


Governor and Lieutenant Governor

The race between Gov. Tom Wolf and his Republican opponent Scott Wagner has been criticized for focusing more on sniping rather than substance. But between the campaign ads and threats of physical violence, the candidates have occasionally laid out their vision for Pennsylvania’s next four years. It’s also worth noting that when you pick a candidate for governor, you’re also casting a ballot for his running mate.

Democratic Governor Tom Wolf and running mate John Fetterman.

Democratic Governor Tom Wolf and running mate John Fetterman.

Tom Wolf, Democrat

Tweetable bio: Pro-union incumbent and York County businessman; vetoed 20-week abortion ban; expanded Medicaid to 700K; wants $12-an-hour minimum wage; lobbied for more school $$$; yes to medical marijuana, no to legal pot; didn’t sign 3 out of 4 budgets; agreed to 1 debate

John Fetterman, Democrat

Tweetable bio: Mayor of Braddock, Harvard grad, and AmeriCorps alum; beat controversial incumbent Mike Stack; favors single-payer healthcare, recreational marijuana, and a path to citizenship; lost 2016 Senate primary; wants another chance; backer + backed by Bernie Sanders; yes, he has tattoos

Recommended reading:

Key endorsements: Planned Parenthood; Fraternal Order of Police Pennsylvania State Lodge; CeaseFire Pennsylvania

Connect with Wolf: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Connect with Fetterman: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner and running mate Jeff Bartos.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner and running mate Jeff Bartos.

Scott Wagner, Republican

Tweetable bio: York County trash mogul and former state senator; co-introduced clean slate legislation; supported pro-LGBTQ bill, said “plumbing” should dictate bathroom use; against abortion access; held town halls; called climate activist “young and naive“; threatened to stomp on Wolf’s face

Jeff Bartos, Republican

Tweetable bio: Berks County native and Montgomery County real estate developer; considered run for Senate; backs Scott Wagner’s plans all the way; supports medical, but not recreational pot; wants more mental health services, not gun control; in favor of the death penalty for “heinous” crimes

Recommended reading:

Key endorsements: President Donald Trump; ChamberPAC; National Rifle Association

Connect with Wagner: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Connect with Bartos: Twitter | Facebook

Other candidates

Paul Glover, Green Party candidate for governor: supports expanding Medicaid, abortion access, and an end to fracking

Jocolyn Bowser-Bostick, Green Party candidate for lieutenant governor: supports tuition-free college and universal healthcare

Connect with Glover: Twitter | Facebook
Connect with Bowser-Bostick: Facebook

Ken Krawchuk, Libertarian candidate for governor: supports privatizing education, decriminalizing marijuana, and eliminating property tax

Kathleen Smith, Libertarian candidate for lieutenant governor: supports reducing the size of government and decriminalizing drugs

Connect with Krawchuk: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Connect with Smith: Facebook


Sen. Bob Casey and Rep. Lou Barletta

Sen. Bob Casey and Rep. Lou Barletta

Official portraits

U.S. Senate

In a likely test of his remaining clout with Pennsylvania voters, President Donald Trump has waded into the race for U.S. Senator for Pennsylvania between longtime incumbent Democrat Bob Casey and Casey’s challenger, U.S. Congressman Lou Barletta. Casey has continued to out-fundraise Barletta and to lead him in the polls, casting doubt on Trump’s lingering sway in a state he won just two years ago.

Bob Casey, Democrat

Tweetable bio: Incumbent seeking a third 6-year term in office; “Sleeping Bob” to the president; went from pro-gun to pro-gun control; pro-DACA and path to citizenship; spoke out against Trump’s Supreme Court pick before Kavanaugh’s nomination; woke on Twitter

Recommended reading:

Key endorsements: PA AFL-CIO; Barack Obama, NRDC Action Fund

Connect: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Lou Barletta, Republican

Tweetable bio: Sitting congressman who really dislikes sanctuary cities and supports strict immigration laws; voted to repeal and replace Obamacare; opposed restricting high-capacity magazines; supports improvements to the firearm background check system but not an expansion of it; opposes abortion access

Recommended reading:

Key endorsements: President Donald Trump; Pittsburgh, Hazleton, and Lehigh Valley lodges of the Fraternal Order of Police; National Federation of Independent Business

Connect: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Other candidates

Neal Gale, Green Party: wants to protect the “already compromised” environment, cut “spending on the U.S. war machine,” and make sounder economic decisions; supports repealing the 2010 Citizens United ruling

Connect: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Dale Kerns Jr., Libertarian: pro-immigrant and free trade; wants to abolish the Department of Education; against the war on drugs; pro-life but wants abortion policy left to the states; pro-Second Amendment

Connect: Website | Twitter | Facebook


Conor Lamb and Keith Rothus

Conor Lamb and Keith Rothus

Courtesy campaign Facebook pages

17th Congressional District

The contest between Democratic U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb and Republican Rep. Keith Rothfus, both incumbents from adjacent and soon-to-be replaced Pennsylvania congressional districts, has been a race to find the middle and court undecided voters. The district, newly created under a court-ordered redrawing of Pennsylvania’s congressional map, leans Republican but has held a double-digit lead for Lamb. Pundits believe the race there could be a harbinger of Democratic success elsewhere in the country — or just the opposite.

Rep. Conor Lamb, Democrat

Tweetable bio: Running for Congress, again; likes guns and Obamacare; protector of mice/supporter of Medicare; pro-police; former federal prosecutor and Marine; Moderate? Yes; Maverick? Maybe; Wildcard? Not exactly

Recommended reading:

Key endorsements: Human Rights Campaign; End Citizens United; Pennsylvania AFL-CIO

Connect: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Rep. Keith Rothfus, Republican

Tweetable bio: Three-term incumbent; anti-Obamacare and sanctuary cities; against abortion access; believes “legal immigration built our country”; doesn’t always agree with the president but votes his way a lot; voted against funding for an endangered species, now considered one himself

Recommended reading:

Key endorsements: NRA; Tea Party Express; President Donald Trump

Connect: Website | Twitter | Facebook


Rep. Mike Doyle

Rep. Mike Doyle

OFFICIAL PORTRAIT

18th Congressional District

U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle’s old district, the outgoing 14th, was true blue. His new district, the incoming 18th, is more of the same. Both include the City of Pittsburgh and surrounding suburbs and both gave massive margins to Hillary Clinton in 2016. As such, this race was determined back in May when Doyle beat Democratic primary challenger Janis Brooks by 50+ percentage points.

Mike Doyle, Democrat

Doyle is unopposed, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Connect: Website | Twitter | Facebook


Lindsey Williams and Jeremy Shaffer

Lindsey Williams and Jeremy Shaffer

Pa. Senate

The race for the only contested state Senate seat in Allegheny County took a nasty turn in mid-October. First, the campaign manager for Republican Jeremy Shaffer was linked to fake campaign signs that declare Democrat Lindsey Williams is a “Socialist.”

Then, two commonwealth residents sued Williams to kick her off the ballot over residency questions. Williams’ lawyer called the suit a distraction and said voters will have a choice this November. A commonwealth court judge dismissed the suit Oct. 24.

Considering that this district went evenly for Clinton and Trump, it’s a race both parties are closely watching.

District 38

Lindsey Williams, Democrat: Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers communications and political director; supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and “moving toward a universal healthcare system”; endorsed by labor organizations and Human Rights Campaign

Connect: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Jeremy Shaffer, Republican: conservative engineer, business owner, and Ross Township commissioner; defeated incumbent Randy Vulakovich in contentious race; supports zero-based budgeting and guns, opposes abortion access

Connect: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Recommended reading:

Correction: This section has corrected who filed the suit against Williams.


The state capitol building in Harrisburg

The state capitol building in Harrisburg

Ken Marshall / Flickr

Pa. House

With a string of retirements, ten of the more than 20 state House seats in Allegheny County are in play this November. Some that may have seemed out of reach to Democrats before the 2016 election could potentially flip with the promise of the Blue Wave.

If you don’t see your House district on this list, that’s because your candidate is unopposed. In other words,  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

District 23

Dan Frankel, Democrat: member of the House since 1999; Democratic Caucus Chairman and co-chair of Women’s Health Caucus; sponsors LGBTQ protections; endorsed by Equality PA and Service Employees International Union

Connect: Twitter | Facebook

Jay Walker, Green Party: wants to end gerrymandering and fracking; supports single-payer healthcare and free state-owned college for families that make less than $110,000; endorsed by Our Revolution PA

Connect: Website | Twitter | Facebook

District 25

Brandon Markosek, Democrat: son of current representative; previously worked for state Sen. Jim Brewster; wants to provide “sufficient funding for senior citizen-based programs”; endorsed by United Mine Workers of America and Service Employees International Union

Connect: Website | Facebook

Stephen Schlauch, Republican: financial analyst who serves on the Plum Borough School Board; top issues include “fiscal discipline” and pension reform; endorsed by ChamberPAC and Firearms Owners Against Crime

Connect: Website

District 28

Emily Skopov, Democrat: political newbie with Hollywood background; thinks her opponent is an “obstructionist”; endorsed by groups including Planned Parenthood and WTF Pittsburgh

Connect: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Mike Turzai, Republican: representative since 2001 and speaker of the House; conservative who supports limiting abortion access and freeing wine; budget hawk who blocks tax increases

Connect: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Recommended reading:

District 30

Betsy Monroe, Democrat: healthcare industry vet inspired by Women’s March; supports $12 minimum wage and “Any Willing Payer” legislation; endorsed by Pennsylvania State Education Association and Moms Demand Action

Connect: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Lori Mizgorski, Republican: chief of staff to outgoing representative Hal English; member of Shaler Township Board of Commissioners; endorsed by ChamberPAC

Connect: Facebook

District 33

Frank Dermody, Democrat: House minority leader and representative since 1991; former public defender and assistant district attorney in Allegheny County; touts bringing millions of dollars back to his district

Connect: Website | Facebook

Joshua Nulph, Republican: 21-year-old retirement consultant; Harrison Township recreation board chairman; supports term limits and monthly town halls

Connect: WebsiteFacebook

Recommended reading:

District 39

Rob Rhoderick, Democrat: former legislative aide to state Rep. Bill Kortz; member of Elizabeth Township Board of Commissioners; supported by labor organizations

Connect: Twitter | Facebook

Mike Puskaric, Republican: title insurance businessman; supports Second Amendment rights and extending the Mon-Fayette Expressway to Pittsburgh; endorsed by LifePAC

Connect: Website | Facebook

Recommended reading:

District 40

Sharon Guidi, Democrat: early childhood educator; supports a Marcellus Shale severance tax and universal pre-K; endorsed by labor unions

Connect: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Natalie Mihalek, Republican: veteran of the Navy and the Allegheny County DA’s office; wants to expand in-patient treatment for opioids; endorsed by Pennsylvania State Nurses Association and NRA

Connect: Website | Facebook

Recommended reading:

District 44

Michele Knoll, Democrat: former teacher and Avonworth School District board member; developmental therapist who supports severance tax to fund schools; endorsed by labor unions and Equality PA

Connect: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Valerie Gaydos, Republican: business owner and one-time legislative aide to former state Sen. Mike Fisher; “pro-life, pro-growth, and pro-business”; endorsed by ChamberPAC

Connect: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Recommended reading:

District 46

Byron Timmins, Democrat: retail veteran and community volunteer; supports increasing state funding for local school districts; endorsed by labor organizations and Planned Parenthood

Connect: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Jason Ortitay, Republican: incumbent and owner Jason’s Cheesecake Company in Avella; wants to “Make the Second Amendment Great Again”; endorsed by Pennsylvania State Nurses Association and ChamberPAC

Connect: Website | Facebook

District 54

Jon McCabe, Democrat: recent college grad and political newbie; supports Medicare for All and raising the minimum wage to at least $10.10; endorsed by labor unions and Planned Parenthood

Connect: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Bob Brooks, Republican: former Murrysville mayor and part owner of Pittsburgh Penguins and Pirates; NRA member who opposes abortion access and tax increases; endorsed by outgoing representative Eli Evankovich

Connect: Website | Facebook


What Allegheny County voters will see on Nov. 6, 2018

What Allegheny County voters will see on Nov. 6, 2018

Ballot Question

All voters in Allegheny County will be asked about establishing the Allegheny County Children’s Fund, which would be funded by a property tax increase. The question will read:

“Shall the Allegheny County Home Rule Charter be amended to establish the Allegheny County Children’s Fund, funded by Allegheny County levying and collecting an additional 0.25 mills, the equivalent of $25 on each $100,000 of assessed value, on all taxable real estate, beginning January 1, 2019 and thereafter, to be used to improve the well-being of children through the provision of services throughout the County including early childhood learning, after school programs, and nutritious meals?”

Recommended reading: