By Peter N. Calcara, CAE, vice president – government relations
Tuesday, May 15, is primary election day in Pennsylvania. To help PICPA members prepare for the primary elections, your Government Relations Team has prepared an election guide that includes information on the gubernatorial, U.S. Senate, U.S. Congressional, and Pennsylvania Senate and House races. The guide is a nonpartisan look at the candidates and their positions.
Pennsylvania holds closed primary elections, meaning you must be a registered member of a party to vote for that party's candidates. The candidates who receive the highest number of votes in the primary election will be the nominees representing their respective party on the November election ballot. To check your registration status or for help finding your polling place, visit votesPA.com.
In the race for U.S. Senate, incumbent Democrat Bob Casey is unopposed in his primary. He will face either U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta (R) or state Rep. Jim Christiana (R-Beaver, Washington) in November.
Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives hold 236 of 435 seats. There are six vacancies. Democrats would need to add 24 seats while maintaining the 193 they already hold to take control. Pennsylvania is at the center of this effort. As New York Times reporter Trip Gabriel wrote on March 30, 2018, “Two developments are converging to give Pennsylvania its outsize role: New congressional districts drawn by the State Supreme Court make the map more of an equal playing field; and a special-election upset by a Democrat in one of the reddest parts of the state signaled an incipient blue wave.”
All 18 of Pennsylvania’s Congressional seats are up for election this year. Republicans currently hold a 13 to 5 advantage, but with redrawn Congressional districts, many political observers speculate that state Democrats will make significant gains to close the margin. A race of note to the PICPA is that of Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, CPA (R-Bucks), who is seeking a second term. Fitzpatrick is the only CPA member of Congress from Pennsylvania.
In the race for governor, Republican voters will pick from three candidates – Laura Ellsworth, Paul Mango, or Scott Wagner. The winner will challenge incumbent Democrat Tom Wolf in November.
In the Pennsylvania General Assembly, all 203 state House seats and one half of the 50 Senate seats will be voted on this year. Republicans currently hold commanding leads in both chambers: 34 to 16 in the Senate and 119 to 81 in the House (there are currently three vacancies). With the majority comes control of committees and the legislative agenda. The majority party dictates which bills are brought up for consideration and which are not.
Of interest to the CPA-PAC, PICPA’s political arm, there are the six CPA legislators seeking reelection. They are Sen. Pat Browne, CPA (R-Lehigh), and Reps. Michael Corr, CPA (Inactive) (R-Montgomery), George Dunbar, CPA (Inactive)(R-Westmoreland), Keith Greiner, CPA (R-Lancaster), Michael Peifer, CPA (Inactive) (R-Pike), and Frank Ryan, CPA (R-Lebanon). Rep. John Maher, CPA (Inactive) (R-Allegheny), the senior member of the House “CPA caucus,” has opted to retire this year.
This group has played a significant role in every important piece of legislation championed by the PICPA. From state pension reform (Act 5 of 2017), to amendments to the Charitable Purposes law (Act 71 and 72 of 2018), and to streamlining the local tax collection law (Act 18 of 2018), the PICPA has leaned heavily on these lawmakers to help get our legislative agenda enacted into law.
Elections matter, and your vote matters. As Robert Kennedy said, “Elections remind us not only of the rights but the responsibilities of citizenship in a democracy.”
Please vote on May 15.