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Statewide races for attorney general, auditor general and treasurer highlight the primary election ballot

Caitlin Mackiewicz

Unlike four years ago, the primary election Tuesday will take place on time.

Like four years ago, the presidential race will carry no drama and the same major-party candidates.

That will leave Democratic voters statewide to choose nominees in contested races for state attorney general, auditor general and treasurer.

On the Republican side, only the attorney general’s race is contested. Incumbent state Treasurer Stacy Garrity and incumbent Auditor General Timothy DeFoor have no opposition.

In northeastern and north central Pennsylvania, the contested state legislative races are few Tuesday.

Voters will also choose delegates to the Democratic and Republican presidential nominating conventions.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the typical April primary in a presidential election year back to June 2, the first election that allowed no-excuse mail-in balloting, too.

President Donald Trump was the presumptive Republican nominee, even though two virtual unknowns remained on the ballot. On the Democratic side, former Vice President Joe Biden was the presumptive nominee after eclipsing Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii weeks earlier, though Sanders and Gabbard remained on the state ballot.

On Tuesday, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley remains on the Republican presidential ballot and U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips on the Democratic but both dropped out long ago, leaving the same two presumptive nominees.

This time, despite Trump’s claims to the contrary, Biden is the legally elected president as he and Trump seek second terms.

In the attorney general’s race, which may provide a preview of future governor candidates, York County District Attorney David Sunday has the state Republican Party endorsement against state Rep. Craig Williams of Delaware County.

Five seek the Democratic nomination – Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer, former state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale of Allegheny County, state Rep. Jared Solomon of Philadelphia, former Philadelphia Chief Public Defender Keir Bradford-Grey and former Bucks County solicitor Joe Khan.

In the auditor general’s race, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta of Philadelphia and Lehigh County Controller Mark Pinsley want the Democratic nomination and the chance to face DeFoor.

In the treasurer’s race, state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro of Erie County is matched up against Erin McClelland, of Allegheny County, a former substance abuse counselor and project manager for the Allegheny County Department of Human Services. The winner will face Garrity, also a potential future governor candidate.

The only other statewide race this year is for U.S. Senate, but incumbent Democrat Bob Casey and Republican former hedge fund manager Dave McCormick are unopposed for the nominations.

Only five state representative and no state Senate races in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania are contested.

In House District 109, which encompasses all of Columbia County, incumbent first-term Rep. Robert Leadbeter III faces a challenge from Benton Area School Director Matt Yoder, a teacher, for the Republican nomination. The winner will face Nicholas McGaw in November. McGaw is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

In House District 110, which includes part of Bradford County and all of Wyoming County, longtime incumbent Rep. Tina Pickett faces Matthew Wayman for the Republican. No Democrat filed for the seat.

In House District 117, which covers roughly most of the western and southern parts of Luzerne County, incumbent first-term Republican Rep. Michael Cabell faces a stiff challenge from Jamie Walsh, a gutter installation company owner. No Democrat filed for the seat.

In House District 120, which includes much of Wyoming Valley west of the Susquehanna River, two Democrats and three Republicans seek the nomination. The Democrats are Fern Leard, a former certified nursing assistant and Exeter Council Vice President John Morgan.

The Republicans are Luzerne County Councilwoman Lee Ann McDermott, the co-owner of a real estate appraisal business; Patrick Musto, co-owner of a flooring sales company; and Brenda Pugh, the majority owner and CEO of a security systems installation company.

In House District 139, which includes parts of Wayne and Pike counties, insurance agency owner Jeffrey Olsommer faces Democrat Robin Skibber in a special election to replace former Rep. Joe Adams. Adams resigned for personal reasons in February. The winner will replace him through Nov. 30. Republicans, Democrats and third-party and unaffiliated voters can vote in that election.

Olsommer and Skibber also are on the primary election ballot. Skibber is unopposed for the Democratic nomination. Olsommer faces staffing company owner Matthew Contreras. The Olsommer-Contreras winner will likely face Skibber in November.

Only one congressional district has a contest. In the 7th Congressional District, state Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, Kevin Dellicker and Maria Montero seek the Republican nomination and the right to face U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, a Democrat. The 7th includes parts of Monroe, Northampton and Lehigh counties.

One county has a major ballot referendum. Luzerne County voters will decide whether to seat another commission to study the county council/manager form of government.

Voters chose the current form over the former three-commissioner form in the 2011 election.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Mail-in ballots must be received by county bureaus of elections by 8 p.m. to count.

Borys joins WVIA News from The Scranton Times-Tribune, where he served as an investigative reporter and covered a wide range of political stories. His work has been recognized with numerous national and state journalism awards from the Inland Press Association, Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors, Society of Professional Journalists and Pennsylvania Newsmedia Association.

You can email Borys at boryskrawczeniuk@wvia.org