April 25, 2012 | By | Posted in Legislature

Updated: Incumbents fall in PA House, congressional races

House Speaker Sam Smith locked in tight battle
By Eric Boehm | PA Independent
HARRISBURG – Five Pennsylvania House incumbents lost primary elections Tuesday night, and the Speaker of the House survived an unexpected close call.

The biggest incumbent to fall was state Rep. Rick Geist, R-Blair, who served in the state House since 1979.
He was ousted by John McGinnis, a finance professor at Penn State’s Altoona campus who ran on a libertarian platform with tea party support. 
“I think they both worked hard and the campaigns worked hard. A lot of money, most of it from outside Blair County,” said Blair County Republican chairman A.C. Stickel. “I think it was more anti-incumbency than anything else.”
Another long-time member of the House, state Rep. Babette Josephs, D-Philadelphia, also appeared to be headed for defeat on Tuesday night.
A member since 1985, Josephs trailed Philadelphia lawyer and gay rights advocate Brian Sims by more than 200 votes in the center city Philadelphia district.
State Rep. Joe Preston, D-Allegheny, was taken down by Ed Gainey by a margin of 66 percent to 34 percent with 88 percent of precincts reporting.
“The voters in our neighborhoods are looking for new leadership and a vision that will help grow our neighborhoods, keep us safe, and put people to work,” Gainey, chairman of the Pittsburgh Democratic Committee, said in a statement.
Preston was another long-time incumbent, having served in the state House since 1983.

In other races, state Rep. Ken Smith, D-Lackawanna, was defeated by Kevin Haggerty by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent, while State Rep. Kevin Murphy, D-Lackawanna, was defeated by Marty Flynn by about 300 votes in another close race.
House Speaker Sam Smith, R-Jefferson, found himself in an unexpectedly close race. With 88 percent of the state reporting, he was leading challenger Chris Dush by about 160 votes.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Holden lost to Matthew Cartwright, who won 55 percent of the vote in the newly configured 17th Congressional District.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire was defeated by incumbent and fellow Democrat U.S. Rep. Mark Critz in a battle created when Republicans put the two Democratic incumbents into the same district.
With 85 percent of the precincts reporting, Critz had 54 percent of the vote in that 12th Congressional District race.
This story was updated at 12:05 a.m to include Rep. Kevin Murphy's loss to Marty Flynn.
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