Sestak, Onorato win primary elections

By Staff Report

U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak beat five-term U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter yesterday in a close Democratic… U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak beat five-term U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter yesterday in a close Democratic primary election that received national and international attention.

Sestak, D-Delaware County, won by a 7-percent margin, taking 53.8 percent of the vote, while Specter received 46.2 percent of the vote, with almost 99 percent of precincts reporting.

Sestak will take on Republican Pat Toomey, who received 80.9 percent of vote, in November for Pennsylvania’s only Senate seat up for election. Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, who will be up for re-election in 2012, holds the other seat.

A Quinnipiac University poll taken Monday put the Toomey-Sestak contest within five percentage points.

Specter pledged his support of Sestak in the fall against Toomey, who nearly defeated Specter in a close Republican primary in 2004. The 80-year-old Specter tweeted his support shortly after conceding at his Philadelphia headquarters.

The special election in District 12, which includes nearby Johnstown and Uniontown, also held national attention, as voters chose a replacement for the late U.S. Rep. John Murtha, who died in February after complications from a surgery.

After a close race in the polls leading up to the primary, former congressional aide Mark Critz took an early lead in the reported precincts and never let up. Critz took in 53.4 percent of the vote, 9.1 percent more than Republican businessman Tim Burns, his opponent.

Burns won the Republican nomination for the seat, and Critz and Burns will face each other again in November for the District 12 seat.

A little after 10 p.m., the Post-Gazette called the race for Critz, followed shortly by the Associated Press, MSNBC and other media outlets.

About the possibility of taking the position of his former boss John Murtha, Critz said, “It’s a sad moment, but I’ve been given an opportunity to help Pennsylvania move forward.”

Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato took the Democratic nomination for governor with 45.1 percent of the vote.

“Harrisburg culture has eroded our faith,” he told people attending his celebration at International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers headquarters in the South Side. “Pennsylvania needs a governor who will put tax payers first.”

Onorato turned to a supporter later that night and said, “One down, just one more to go, baby.”

In second was state Sen. Anthony Williams, who represents Philadelphia and took 18.1 percent of the vote. The other candidate from the Pittsburgh area, Auditor General Jack Wagner, received 24.4 percent of the vote, and Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel received 12.4 percent.

The Democratic primary for lieutenant governor was still too close to call at 12:30 a.m. today, with state Sen. Scott Conklin, D-Centre County, taking 35.4 percent of the vote, former city controller Jonathan Saidel taking 35 percent and former commonwealth court judge Doris Smith-Ribner had 29.7 percent.

State Attorney General Tom Corbett won the Republican nomination for governor with 69.1 percent of the vote. His challenger, state Rep. Sam Rohrer, who represents parts of Eastern Pennsylvania, received 30.9 percent of the vote.

Corbett’s runningmate, Bucks County Commissioner Jim Cawley, emerged from a nine-way race to take the Republican lieutenant governor nomination.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle took an uncontested primary for Pennsylvania’s 14th congressional district, which includes Pittsburgh and surrounding areas. His Republican challenger is legal professional Melissa Haluszczak.

Photographer Steve Garfinkel contributed to this report.