Presidential primaries come to Pennsylvania Tuesday

By Gretchen Andersen

The presidential primaries will make their way to Pennsylvania this week.

On Tuesday, Pitt… The presidential primaries will make their way to Pennsylvania this week.

On Tuesday, Pitt students and local Pittsburghers alike can cast their votes for one of the four listed Republican presidential candidates — Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum — as well as for local officials. Pennsylvania’s primaries are closed elections, so voters can only vote in the primaries of the party with which they are registered.

Although Santorum suspended his campaign earlier this month, his name will still appear on the ballot because he announced his decision after the withdrawal date had passed.

Considering the recent string of bomb threats on campus, Allegheny County Division of Elections manager Mark Wolosik said the county will “follow the same procedures you guys have” in the event that there is a bomb threat at the on-campus polling locations of Posvar Hall and Soliders & Sailors Memorial Hall.

Wolosik said the county cannot change polling locations — which are determined by peoples’ addresses — because the elections must be held in the electing district or in an adjacent electing district, and that the current polling venues “maximize convenience for students.”

Aside from being a crucial day for voters, the Pennsylvania primaries also mark one of the dates the Pitt College Republicans and Pitt College Democrats have been working toward since early this year.

Executives from both clubs outlined some of the important upcoming races to pay attention to, including tight statewide elections.

“It’s part of being a citizen. It’s important for everyone to know who the nominees are and to look at the individual and not the party label,” said Pitt College Republican President Casey Rankin.

Pitt College Republicans Public Relations director Rick Hill agreed and said that students need to exercise their civic duties.

“Romney has the nomination. Santorum was the only person who could have denied it. It’s a guarantee,” Hill said. He said that the Republican National Committee is beginning to focus on the fall general election by merging staff and resources to challenge Obama.

Junior Rachel Browning, who is a registered voter in Pennsylvania, said she has paid attention to the primaries and expects Romney to clinch the nomination.

“I know a lot of people registered, but a lot of people don’t vote. Students don’t recognize the impact,” Browning said.

Browning said she thinks that maybe more people will vote this year because of national issues like college tuition and funding for Planned Parenthood, but added that “it’s hard to tell with students.”

Hill said that in late February Pitt College Republicans endorsed Romney and that right now “there’s definitely people looking to general election strategies.”

However, he acknowledged that Paul and Gingrich are still in the race for the presidential nomination and that it is good for voters to hear ideas different from Romney’s.

“I’m personally a Romney supporter, but I saw things I liked in Santorum, Gingrich and Paul. They all have the right to run a good campaign. I may be on the outside, but I don’t think it’s right for voices in the party to say, ‘Drop out right now.’ There still needs to be competition,” Hill said.

The New York Times reports that Romney currently has 685 delegates, Santorum 262, Gingrich 136 and Paul 63. The Republican presidential candidate needs a total of 1,144 to win the nomination. Pennsylvania has 72 delegates up for grabs.

Voters can also cast their ballots Tuesday in primary races for U.S. senator, attorney general, auditor general, state treasurer, U.S. representative, state senator, state representative and party convention delegates.

Rankin said members of the College Republicans will pass out literature at various polling places endorsing Republican U.S. Senate candidate Steve Welch, who Gov. Tom Corbett and the Republican Party of Pennsylvania have endorsed.

Democratic Sen. Bob Casey is up for re-election, and five Republicans are vying for his seat.

Businessmen Welch and Tom Smith, attorney Marc Scaringi, former state Rep. Sam Rohrer and veterans’ advocate David Christian all hope to earn the Republican nomination and challenge Casey in November.

Pitt College Democrats President Lara Sullivan said the Pennsylvania attorney general Democratic primary race between Kathleen Kane, who worked as an assistant district attorney for Lackawanna County, and Patrick Murphy, a former Bucks County congressman and Army JAG officer, is another race voters should take note of.

Republican attorney general candidate David Freed, now serving as Cumberland County district attorney, faces no Republican opponent in Tuesday’s primary.

Sullivan said that Pitt College Democrats have participated in phone banks and other manners of reminding people to vote as part of the Obama campaign’s Get Out The Vote events, which started on Saturday and will continue through Tuesday.

Senior Aileen Daney said she won’t be voting because she is registered as an independent.

Sullivan said students should come out to vote on Tuesday to prepare for the fall elections. She said that students who are registered Democrats are encouraged to vote for Obama even though he is running unopposed.

“Although it is a primary [Democratic presidential race] that’s not really contested, it’s a great way to practice voting: how to get to the polling places, what to do there when you get to the polls, practice to make sure your valid ID works and get into the habit of voting.”