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Pennsylvania’s 2020 Primary Election: A Recap

Last Updated: Jul 8, 2020

The Pennsylvania Medical Political Action Committee (PAMPAC) is the political arm of the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED). PAMPAC supports pro-medicine candidates running for the Pennsylvania state legislature or statewide office. To learn more about PAMPAC, including how to join, visit www.pamedsoc.org/PAMPAC. And, check out PAMPAC’s 2020 primary election recap below.

Vote-Red-Blue-HandsHere are some highlights of primary races from the 2020 Pennsylvania primary election – including races that PAMPAC engaged in as well as some other notable races around the Commonwealth.

PAMPAC Supported Races

Democrats

State House District 103: PAMPAC supported incumbent State Representative Patty Kim with both financial support and constituent physician mailers. Given that Rep. Kim is a member of key committees such as Appropriations and Insurance, we felt the time was right to work on a stronger relationship with her. We are pleased to report that Rep. Kim handily defeated her challenger and will be heading back to the Capitol for her 5th term in the fall as she is unlikely to have a serious challenger in the general election.

State House District 20: Another incumbent candidate that received both financial support and constituent physician correspondences was State Representative Adam Ravenstahl. Rep. Ravenstahl is seeking a sixth term in the General Assembly and has been a strong ally of PAMED as well as serving on one of our most important committees, the House Professional Licensure Committee. Unfortunately, Rep. Ravenstahl was unseated by newcomer, Emily Kinkead. Kinkead, an attorney, will be headed to Harrisburg as a serious general election challenge is unlikely.

Republicans

State House District 44: Facing her first reelection campaign, incumbent State Representative Valerie Gaydos received both financial support as well as outreach to physicians in her district from PAMPAC. Rep. Gaydos captured about 64% of the vote on her way to winning the primary election. Rep. Gaydos is a key member of the House Health Committee and a strong advocate for pharmacy benefit manager reform and regulation, having recently seen her gag clause legislation pass through the General Assembly and head to the Governor’s desk for final passage. Rep. Gaydos’ sister Maria is a family physician practicing in Texas.

State House District 106: Seeking his third term in the House of Representatives, incumbent Representative Tom Mehaffie found himself in a three-way bid for a spot on the Republican ballot in November. Rep. Mehaffie significantly outpaced both of his challengers with around 45% of the vote. PAMPAC provided Rep. Mehaffie with physician constituent outreach and is seeking to build on our relationship with the Representative as he serves on the House Professional Licensure Committee.

State House District 29: This race featured another incumbent seeking reelection for the first time.  Incumbent State Representative Meghan Schroeder has been both a friend and ally to PAMED during her first term and while she does not currently serve on any of the organization’s key committees, she has proven a strong voice for physicians and protecting the physician-patient relationship. Always willing to listen to the concerns of member physicians, PAMPAC supported the representative with both financial assistance and constituent outreach. Rep. Schroeder’s brother-in-law is an emergency physician practicing in Southeast Pennsylvania. Rep. Schroeder emerged from a tough primary with over 60% of the vote and heads to the general election in November.

Other Notable Races Around the Commonwealth

The Pennsylvania General Assembly is saying goodbye to the top leadership in both the House and Senate as Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25) is retiring after serving since 2000 and House of Representatives Speaker Mike Turzai (R-28) is stepping down after serving since 2001. In the race to replace Senator Scarnati, State Representative Chris Dush (R-66) has secured the victory in the Republican primary. Looking at the State House District 28 race to replace Speaker Turzai, it was Turzai-backed candidate Rob Mercuri who was victorious.

A few other notable results around the state also draw focus to the state Senate where incumbents were upset by challengers. Over in Senate District 1, Senator Larry Farnese, serving since 2008, was defeated in the primary election by another newcomer, Nikil Saval. 

Looking next to the Senate District 17, incumbent State Senator Daylin Leach lost to his challenger, Amanda Cappelletti.

Lastly, with the retirement of longtime Senator Andrew Dinniman in State Senate District 19, the Democratic primary featured a three-way contest and former West Chester mayor and current State House District 156 Representative Carolyn Comitta claimed victory and heads to the general election in November. It should be noted that Rep. Comitta concurrently ran for the Senate seat as well as reelection to her current House seat. Representative Comitta will resign her House seat and a special election will be held to replace her.

House Leadership Changes

While the primary election brought changes, the departure of House of Representatives Speaker Mike Turzai provided even more shake up within House Leadership. As a result, Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-100) has been elected as Speaker of the House. State Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-171) has been elevated to Majority Leader of the House while Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-63) steps into the Majority Whip role.

Rounding out the changes to the Majority House Leadership team was the addition of longtime State Rep. Martin Causer (R-67) as Policy Chairman. Like the changes within house leadership, we will similarly see shuffling in the Senate once President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati steps away. Interesting to note is that currently both the Senate and House Majority Leaders claim Centre County as home (Corman R-34; Benninghoff R-171).

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