Primary election will set the stage for November
As Pennsylvanians prepare to head to the voting booths on Tuesday, May 20, most of the attention in this election cycle is focused on the gubernatorial race, but all 203 State House seats and half of the 50 State Senate seats are also up for grabs.
At the top of the ticket, Gov. Tom Corbett will win the Republican Party’s nomination and seek to win a second term in November. Democrats will choose between four remaining candidates: successful businessman Tom Wolf, state treasurer Rob McCord, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, and former Clinton Administration environmental adviser Katie McGinty. Wolf is currently a front runner and several polls show him with a substantial lead as the primary draws near.
In other local races, Republican U.S. Rep. Joseph Pitts is seeking to be reelected in the 16th Congressional District that includes almost all of Lancaster County and parts of Chester and Berks counties. Pitts has served this district since 1997 and is unopposed in the primary.
On the Democratic side, Tom Houghton and Raja Kittappa are vying for the Democratic nomination in the primary election.
Houghton, 45, announced his candidacy in January, pledging to reduce partisan gridlock in Washington D.C. Houghton served for two years as a state representative in the Republican-leaning 13th District in southern Chester County. He was also a supervisor in London Grove Township for six years. He is a lawyer with an office in West Grove. He has earned the endorsement of Democratic leaders in Chester, Berks, and Lancaster counties.
Kittappa grew up in Lancaster County and earned a PhD from Princeton University. He is a stem cell researcher.
In the 13th Legislative District, State Rep. John Lawrence is looking to serve a third term in the state House of Representatives. He is unopposed in the Republican primary. During his time in office, Lawrence has authored legislation combining redundant government services and directing an audit for every bureau, commission, and agency of state government. He serves on four committees in the State House: Health, Liquor Control, Children & Youth, and Finance, where he serves as the vice chairman. Prior to being elected to the House, he worked in the private sector as an account officer for J.P. Morgan Chase.
On the Democratic side, Ann Schott is seeking her party’s nomination in the primary election. Schott has been a teacher in the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District for three decades. She helped design aspects of the district’s social studies curriculum and worked to develop closer ties between the school district and the community by contributing to several innovative programs that bring military veterans into high school classrooms.
As an educator, Schott has been honored with the Citizenship Education Teacher Award, the Citadel Heart of Learning Award, and the Unionville Outstanding Service Award.
She was a key advisor when her husband, Eric, ran for 13th legislative district seat in 2012.
The 158th legislative district seat is open following incumbent Republican Chris Ross’ decision not to seek another term. The Republican Party had a strong candidate in waiting: local GOP leaders have rallied around the candidacy of Cuyler Walker, a supervisor in East Marlborough Township for the last 17 years. For the last nine years, his colleagues on the board of supervisors have selected him to serve as chairman of the board. The township has earned acclaim on several occasions for being well-managed.
Walker has practiced law in Chester County for more than 20 years at the law firm of Pepper Hamilton LLP and also is the president of a family-owned manufacturing business. In these roles, he has experienced firsthand the challenges that small businesses face as a result of government regulations and taxes. If he's elected, he wants to focus on policies that are designed to reduce government spending and waste, keep taxes low, and improve the economic climate for small businesses.
Walker is a graduate of Yale University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and economics. He attended the University of Pennsylvania, earning a Juris Doctorate from the Penn Law School and an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School. During his career, he has worked in government at the state and federal levels, having served as an assistant to Gov. Dick Thornburgh and in the U.S. Department of Justice during the administrations of Pres. Ronald Reagan and Pres. George H.W. Bush.
Walker does not have a clear path to the nomination, though. Roger Howard, a Tea Party candidate, is challenging Walker for the nomination. Howard, a businessman who is a patent holder and a former small business owner, fought in the Vietnam War. He has pledged to restore honor to the leadership of the Republican Party. In 2012, Howard earned about 30 percent of the vote when he challenged incumbent State Sen. Dominic Pileggi in that Republican primary.
On the Democratic side, Susan Rzucidlo will win the Democratic nomination in this heavily Republican district.
Rzucidlo is a business owner and farmer who founded the non-profit organization, SPEAK Unlimited to serve children and adults who have special needs. She helped create the Pennsylvania Premise Alert System, a safety tool for families and police, and gifted the system to the state. She advocated for special training for first responders when they are assisting children and adults who have special needs.
The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on May 20. More information about the primary election in Chester County, including polling places, can be found on the county's website at www.chesco.org.