The Lead

Pgh voters pick replacements for ex-Reps. Gainey, Wheatley in special Pa. House elections

By: - April 6, 2022 10:23 am

Martell Covington and Aerion Abney (CP Photo: Jared Wickerham / Photo: Courtesy of Abney/Via Pittsburgh City Paper)

(*This story was updated at 8:44 a.m. on Thursday, 4/7/22 to correctly identify Martell Covington’s educational background)

PITTSBURGH — Voters in two Allegheny County districts elected Democrats in a pair of special elections to fill the former general assembly seats of Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey and his chief of staff Jake Wheatley.

Democrat Martell Covington held a decisive win in the 24th Legislative District, beating Republican Todd Koger in the April 5 election left vacant by Gainey after he was named Pittsburgh mayor in 2021. Covington is a legislative aide to State Sen. Jay Costa, *and an alumnus of Howard University. Covington held 92.96% of the results, receiving 5,054 votes to Koger’s 311. There were also 72 write-in votes cast.

Social worker Aerion A. Abney, a University of Pittsburgh alumnus, ran unopposed for the former seat of Gainey’s chief of staff Jake Wheatley in the 19th Legislative District. With 82 of 86 precincts reporting as of press time, Abney received 2,656 votes, and there were 435 write-ins.

Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee President Jessica Post congratulated Abney and Covington on their wins.

“While Pennsylvania Republicans fill their ranks with insurrectionists and conspiracy theorists, Democrats are fighting for what matters most to working families: voting rights, quality education, and better wages,” Post said in a statement.

Covington and Abney will finish out the remainder of the two terms through the end of this year. To stay in office for the full term, they will both have to run again in the May 17 primary, which will have slightly different-looking maps due to redistricting.

Voter turnout was quite low Tuesday, according to the Allegheny County Elections Division, with only about 7% of eligible voters returning ballots.

The 19th district includes Pittsburgh city neighborhoods of Downtown, Hill District, Uptown, South Oakland, Hazelwood, Allentown, Beltzhoover, parts of South Side, and North Side neighborhoods Marshall-Shadeland, California-Kirkbride, Perry South, Fineview, Central North Side, Manchester, Chateau, Deutschtown, Allegheny Center, Allegheny West, and North Shore.

The 24th district includes Pittsburgh neighborhoods Homewood, Highland Park, Garfield, and East Liberty, as well as parts of Wilkinsburg.

Kim Lyons covers Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania for the Capital-Star. She wrote this story for Pittsburgh City Paper, where it first appeared

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Kim Lyons
Kim Lyons

Kim Lyons is a veteran western Pennsylvania journalist who has covered people and trends in politics and business for local and national publications. Follow her on Threads @social_kimly