Election 2010: Republicans sweep up and down the ballot

GOP nabs control of state house, governor’s mansion
By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com

Voters across Chester County seemed to be expressing frustration at a weak economy — and too much government intervention — as three Democratic state representatives were turned from office county-wide, the Republicans seized a massive majority in the state house and Pennsylvanians elected a new governor, Republican Tom Corbett.

Republicans won all three local congressional races, with incumbents Joe Pitts (R-16) and Jim Gerlach (R-6) keeping their seats by large margins, while Pat Meehan (R-7) won easily over Democrat Bryan Lentz. Republican Pat Toomey won a tight race over Joe Sestak for U.S. Senate.

In local races, incumbent GOP State Representatives Steve Barrar (R-160) and Chris Ross (R-158) cruised to victory.

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Source: Chester County Voter Services, Delaware County Election Bureau

While the impact of the federal races remains unclear, with both parties controlling one house of Congress and a Democrat, Barrack Obama, in the White House, the change in Harrisburg should be more obvious. With the GOP controlling both houses of the legislature and a new GOP governor, Republicans should have the votes needed to move ahead with their priorities, including spending cuts and changes to public pension plans — and potentially, a fix to the looming crisis involving teacher pensions.

“With both chambers and the Governor’s office all held by the same party, there will be a good deal of pressure to cut expenses to match our reduced revenues and pass the budget before the June 30 deadline,” Ross said Wednesday. “That should take up a considerable amount of our focus for the first six months, along with streamlining government operations and addressing the pension problem. Corbett will have a chance to bring up some other initiatives, but he has not really given us any other signals yet.”

Rzucidlo said she wasn’t disappointed and felt she did well for a first-time candidate.

“I am tired but not disappointed. I am very proud of the race that I ran,” she said. “I ran a race in which I provided specific proposals on critical issues and gave real and solid answers to all questions asked of me. As an advocate, I believe it is imperative to be honest and forthright and not give non-answers in order not to offend people  and to always be respectful of others. I did just that.”

Ross seemed less willing to celebrate the Republican wins — putting in perspective with the last few elections and the impact of the economy on voters’ decisions.

“There has been a strong demand for ‘change,’ and this time it was for less spending, reduction of the debt and smaller government,” he said. “If that is delivered, will the voters be satisfied or will they still feel angry and frustrated until the economy improves and they feel more personally secure and optimistic? It is at least possible that a new round of anger will be sparked off by cuts to desired government services.”

UPDATED (12:57 p.m.): Adds comment from Ross and Rzucidlo.

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