Sen. Pileggi wins 9th primary battle, Smith bests UHS grad for US Senate nod
By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com
Candidates with Unionville roots did not fare well in Tuesday’s primary elections — Unionville High School graduate Steven Welch placed third in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate and East Marlborough’s Roger Howard lost by a large margin to state Sen. Dominic Pileggi in a battle for the 9th District nomination.
Turnout across southern Chester County was light — with the presidential nomination largely sewn up in both parties, Republican challenger Mitt Romney will face President Barack Obama in November — much of the attraction seems to have dimmed for local voters.
While Welch — the endorsed pick of Gov. Tom Corbett and much of the Republican state organization — did well throughout the southeast, he struggled elsewhere and lost by a fairly large margin to Tom Smith, who will face incumbent U.S. Senator Bob Casey Jr. in the fall election. Both Smith and Welch are former Democrats who took some heat for their party switching — although Smith is seen as more conservative.
Welch finished third with an unofficial total of 156, 573 votes or 20.8%. Former Berks County state representative Sam Rohrer finished second with 167,732 votes or 22.3%. Smith, the founder of a western Pennsylvania Tea Party organization, had a winning total of 296,878 votes or 39.5% statewide.
Meanwhile, in the 9th District state Senate race, a hotly contested race may have shown the limits of the local Tea Party Republicans. While Howard battled Pileggi — the Senate’s Majority Leader — to a near draw in Chester County, losing 4,443 to 4,200, the former Chester city mayor was a juggernaut in Delaware County, winning 10, 814 to 2,537. Added together, Howard was held to less than 31% of the vote across the district. Pileggi will seek his third term against Democrat Patricia Worrell in the fall.
In a statement issued by Howard’s campaign Wednesday, he focused on the strength of his numbers in Chester County.
“Chester County now has a strong Conservative voice,” he said in a statement, noting he would work for the reelection of Pileggi in the fall. “We all must now rally around the most Conservative candidates in the November election.”
Elsewhere there was less drama: Romney won Chester County easily, gathering some 24,230 votes, while Obama, running unopposed, polled more than 14,000 votes in an election where there were few contested Democratic races.
In the only high profile state-wide battle on the Democratic side, Chester County Democrats went against the statewide tide, supporting former congressman Patrick Murphy for Attorney General. Kathleen Kane won statewide and will face Republican David Freed in the fall.
Locally, Republicans also held elections for the Republican County Committee. While most local races were unopposed there were a handful of battles. In East Marlborough South, Brittany Nicole Piper, a Tea Party candidate and vocal Howard supporter, defeated Nancy Reed.