Republicans cruise to victory in two state Senate special elections

Doug Mastriano and Joe Pittman.
Republican senators-elect Doug Mastriano (L) and Joe Pittman (R)

Republicans held on to two state Senate seats in central and western Pennsylvania, as GOP candidates in a pair of special election contests cruised to easy victories Tuesday night.

The Associated Press called the races shortly after 10 p.m.

Doug Mastriano, an Army veteran and military historian, bested Democrat Sarah Hammond, a municipal planner, in central Pennsylvania’s 33rd District. With 12 percent of precincts reporting, Mastriano led Hammond 70-30 percent, according to unofficial results.

In western Pennsylvania, Joe Pittman is poised to succeed his former boss, state Sen. Don White, to represent the 41st District. Unofficial results show Pittman beat Democratic candidate Susan Boser, an Indiana University of Pennsylvania professor, 65-35.

Tuesday’s special election victories will restore the six-seat Republican majority in the General Assembly’s upper chamber. When Mastriano and Pittman are sworn in, GOP lawmakers will hold 28 Senate seats to Democrats’ 22.

Both seats have been vacant since the end of January.

Mastriano will succeed former state Sen. Richard Alloway, who resigned the seat in January to return to the private sector.

The rural district, which includes all of Adams County and parts of Franklin, York, and Cumberland counties, has been represented by a Republican since 1941, according to a Wilkes University elections database.

During his campaign, Mastriano pledged to defend heterosexual marriage, restrict abortion access, fight firearm regulation, and rein in government spending. He also garnered criticism for Islamophobic memes and comments on his campaign Facebook page.

Pittman will represent all of Armstrong and Indiana counties, as well as parts of Butler and Westmoreland counties. White, his predecessor, resigned in January to retire early.

Pittman served as White’s chief of staff for two decades. His website does not list any political positions, but highlights his community service and lifetime membership with the National Rifle Association.

Another Republican won a special election Tuesday for a state House seat: Marci Mustello in Butler County.

“I want to congratulate the three new Republican members of the General Assembly on their election victories,” Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Val DiGiorgio said in a statement.

“By adding to Republican majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, our lawmakers will be further empowered to stand up to Tom Wolf’s policies that would hinder Pennsylvania’s job creators and growth industries while also remaining steadfast on the front lines in the fight against the encroachment of socialism.”

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