The Lead

Pennsylvania’s busy special election season continues as parties pick nominees for 33rd Senate District

By: - April 1, 2019 1:32 pm
Sarah Hammond, left, and Doug Mastriano. (Courtesy campaign websites)

Sarah Hammond, left, and Doug Mastriano. (Courtesy campaign websites)

Local Democratic and Republican party activists in south-central Pennsylvania have selected their respective nominees for a special election in Pennsylvania’s 33rd Senate District, a reliably Republican seat that was most recently held by Sen. Richard Alloway, R-Adams.

Republican nominee Doug Mastriano, a military historian and veteran, will face Democratic contender Sarah Hammond, a local government employee, on May 21.

The 33rd Senate seat has been empty since February, following Alloway’s unexpected resignation. Alloway told reporters when he resigned that he had become disillusioned with politics.

The seat represents Adams County and part of York, Cumberland, and Franklin counties, and has been held by Republicans since 1940, according to a Wilkes University elections database.

Special election candidates are chosen by local party chapters at nominating conferences. The GOP announced Saturday that conferees had selected Mastriano.

According to his website, Mastriano supports “traditional values.” He opposes abortion rights and same-sex marriage, and supports term limits for elected officials. He advocates an “America First” policy and foreign relations strategy similar to that of President Donald Trump, and believes Pennsylvania should reduce its regulations and tax rates.

He unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for the 13th Congressional District last year. 

“Doug Mastriano is the kind of conservative candidate that reflects the values of south-central Pennsylvania and will be a key asset in helping advance the Republican agenda in Harrisburg,” state Republican Party Chair Val DiGiorgio said in a statement.

Hammond, a native of Hanover, Pa., was announced as the Democratic nominee last week. She works as the community development director in Spring Grove, where she manages zoning, land development, and permitting.

She launched an unsuccessful bid for the state House of Representatives last year. Hammond challenged incumbent Rep. Kate Klunk for her seat in the 196th legislative district, but took only 29 percent of the vote.

A biography provided by the Pennsylvania state Democratic Party said that Hammond comes from a working-class upbringing and “is running for state Senate to respect the dignity of work that people live and that we expect our elected officials to understand.”

“We need an ally in the state Senate who will fight for our values, like raising the minimum wage, defending working Pennsylvanians, and fighting for health care,” state party chairwoman Nancy Patton Mills said in a statement. “With Sarah in the Senate, we will have that ally.”

The race for Alloway’s former seat is one of two special Senate elections taking place May 21.

Voters in the 41st Senate District, in Indiana County, will choose a replacement for former Sen. Don White, a Republican who resigned his seat in February to begin his retirement early. Former White aide Joe Pittman is the GOP nominee for the seat, while Democrats have put up Indiana University of Pennsylvania professor and failed congressional candidate Susan Boser.

A special election will also be held Tuesday to fill a vacant seat in the 37th district. Republican Guy Reschenthaler vacated that seat this year to represent parts of Western Pennsylvania in Congress.

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Elizabeth Hardison
Elizabeth Hardison

Elizabeth Hardison covered education policy, election administration, criminal justice and legislative news for the Capital-Star from Jan. 2019-April 2021. You can find her on Twitter @ElizHardison.