Sunday, August 2, 2015

PA political history in York

A special state Senate election Tuesday made state political history; it was won by a write-in candidate.

PA political history in York


Maybe it was an anomaly, but a special state Senate election in York County on Tuesday erased everything that's accepted as normal in Pennsylvania politics.

A maverick Republican who owns a trash-hauling firm, who wants to replace property taxes with new taxes on food and clothing, who says he won't take a state pension or health insurance and who supports legalizing medical marijuana scored an unprecendented victory as a write-in candidate, beating a GOP-backed 16-year state House member.

Scott Wagner thus became the first in state history to win a Senate race with write-in votes. And he did so by a wide margin over party-picked Rep. Ron Miller, 47 percent to 27 percent, according to the Associated Press, in a low-turnout election.

Wagner, president of Penn Waste, Inc., spent plenty on the race and will serve as senator this rest of this year though he faces a May 20 primary and a November General Election to serve a full four-year term.

He replaces former York County GOP Sen. Mike Waugh who resigned the seat to accept appointment from Gov, Corbett to head the state Farm Show.

Wagner alleged Senate Republicans, wary of Wagner's politics, staged a special election (at an estimated cost of $200,000) rather than wait for the May 20 primary in order to hand their choice, veteran Miller, an edge.

A Democratic candidate, Linda Small, also was on the ballot, but the district is heavily Republican.

The short campaign was expensive and nasty and included TV ads in which Wagner was portrayed as a bully and environmental violator. Wagner's ads accused GOP Senate leaders of trying to control the electoral process.

You can read the Harrisburg Patriot's fuller coverage of the special election here.





Daily News Political Columnist
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About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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