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Incumbent Democrat Tim Holden's defeat highlights Pennsylvania congressional and legislative primaries

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April 25, 2012

By Geoff Pallay

See also: For the state executive election results, see this story

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania primary election arrived today, with state voters flocking to the polls to decide which congressional and state legislative candidates they wanted to see in the general election this November. Party primaries were held for 18 U.S. House seats, while on the state level, 25 State Senate and 203 State House seats were up for election.

Two congressional incumbents were defeated while four state legislative incumbents fell at the hands of a challenger.[1]

Here's a recap of the night's results.


Of the 36 possible major party primaries (2 parties, 18 seats), only 10 (28%) were contested. Of those 10 contested primaries, 3 were Republican and 7 were Democratic. The remaining 18 party primaries contained only one candidate (or none at all).

  • Incumbent Democrat Tim Holden was defeated by challenger Matt Cartwright. The Campaign for Primary Accountability had targeted Holden as being out of touch with the district. Cartwright criticized Holden for voting against President Obama's health care bill.[2]
  • In an incumbent-vs-incumbent battle created by redistricting, Mark Critz outlasted Jason Altmire in a Democratic primary battle. Leading up to the primary, Altmire had been leading most polls. Critz first assumed office in 2011, while Altmire has served in the House since 2007.
  • Incumbent U.S. Senator Bob Casey, Jr. easily advanced to the general election, where he will face Tom Smith (R). Smith, the winner of the GOP primary over four other candidates, spent $4 million of his own money on TV ads.[3]
Members of the U.S. House from Pennsylvania-- Partisan Breakdown
Party As of November 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 6 5
     Republican Party 13 13
Total 19 18

State legislatures

Voters went to the polls to select candidates to appear on the November 6 ballot in 228 state legislative races in the State Senate and State House.

There are a total of 228 state legislative seats up for election this year. With two party primaries in each district, there were 456 possible primaries yesterday. Out of those 456 possible occurrences for voters to choose between multiple candidates, there were only 63 contested primaries. In other words, in 86.2% of the Pennsylvania state legislative primaries, there was only one candidate running on the ballot -- or none at all.

A total of 4 state house incumbents were defeated -- 3 Democrats and 1 Republican. No State Senate incumbents lost to challengers.

Pennsylvania State Senate
Party As of November 5, 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 20 23
     Republican Party 29 27
     Vacancy 1 0
Total 50 50
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Party As of November 5, 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 91 93
     Republican Party 110 110
     Vacancy 2 0
Total 203 203

See also

External links