The primary election is coming up on Tuesday, May 15, but it’s not just to make nominations for government offices. Republicans and Democrats are electing state and county committee members; in many areas, nobody is on the ballot for local party committee, meaning write-in votes are likely to get someone elected.
Party committees do much of the behind-the-scenes work of politics and are responsible for recruiting candidates and making endorsements when primaries are contested.
But the contested primaries for public offices are getting the most attention. Republicans are choosing nominees for governor, lieutenant governor, U.S. Senate and representative in Congress; Democrats have uncontested races for governor and U.S. Senate but will choose a nominee for lieutenant governor.
Nominations are also to be made for the state Legislature, but both major parties have uncontested primaries for those races. Candidates from smaller parties and independent candidates are not nominated in primaries; they have until Aug. 1 to gather signatures to get on the general election ballot.
Only voters who are affiliated with the Republican and Democratic parties may vote in this election. Independent voters and those affiliated with smaller parties may only vote on referendums in primary elections; there are no referendums in Lancaster County for this election.
New polling places include Mount Joy Township’s Milton Grove District, which has moved from the Mount Joy Sportsmen’s Association to the Mount Pleasant Brethren in Christ Church, 1756 Mount Pleasant Road, Mount Joy, and Rapho Township’s Sporting Hill District, which has moved from the East Fairview Church of the Brethren to the Rapho Township Municipal Building, 971 N. Colebrook Road, Manheim. There are three other new polling places in the county, but they are in Lancaster City, Manheim Township and Ephrata Borough. All other Lancaster County voters who still live at the same address where they lived during the last election may continue to vote where they did before.
At the top of the ballot is a race for U.S. Senate. Lou Barletta, a congressman and former mayor of Hazleton in Luzerne County, has the endorsement of the state Republican Party and of President Donald J. Trump. Jim Christiana, a state legislator from Beaver County in western Pennsylvania, is also seeking the Republican nomination. Incumbent U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
Next up is the race for governor, with state Sen. Scott R. Wagner, former health care systems consultant Paul Mango and commercial litigation attorney Laura Ellsworth seeking the Republican nomination. Wagner has the state party’s endorsement. Incumbent Gov. Tom Wolf is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
Pennsylvania is unusual in that candidates for lieutenant governor are nominated separately from the candidates for governor. Both major parties have crowded primaries for lieutenant governor. Although Democratic incumbent Mike Stack of Philadelphia is seeking a second four-year term, the race is hotly contested. Wolf does not have a close relationship with Stack; Wolf revoked Stack’s state police protection detail last year after allegations surfaced that Stack had verbally abused state troopers and other state employees. Others seeking the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor are Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone, Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, Montgomery County banker and insurance broker Ray Sosa and former Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Nina Ahmad.
Republicans seeking the party’s nomination for lieutenant governor are Allegheny County activist Kathy Coder, Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan, real estate investor Jeffrey Bartos of Montgomery County and activist Peg Luksik of Johnstown. Bartos has the party’s endorsement.
Local primaries for state Legislature are uncontested. Republican state Sen. Ryan P. Aument is seeking re-election in the 38th District, which covers northern Lancaster County; Elizabethtown Borough Council member Bill Troutman is unopposed for the Democratic nomination for that office.
For representative in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, incumbent David S. Hickernell is unopposed for the Republican nomination in the 98th District, which includes Elizabethtown Borough, West Donegal Township, East Donegal Township, Conoy Township, Mount Joy Borough, Marietta Borough, West Hempfield Township and Columbia Borough as well as Londonderry Township, Dauphin County. Mary Auker-Endres, who unsuccessfully ran for Elizabethtown Borough Council last year, is unopposed for the Democratic nomination in that race. Incumbent Mindy Fee is unopposed for the Republican nomination in the 37th District, which includes Mount Joy Township, Rapho Township, East Hempfield Township, East Petersburg Borough, Manheim Borough, Penn Township, Elizabeth Township, Clay Township, West Cocalico Township and Denver Borough. Suzanne M. Delahunt of Clay Township is unopposed for the Democratic nomination in the 37th District.
Next up on the ballot are elections for political parties’ state committees. Republicans are to elect seven men and seven women to their state committee and have exactly that number of candidates on the ballot. Democrats are to elect three men and three women and have a contested race for the female committee members. Auker-Endres, the candidate for state representative, is seeking election to the Democratic State Committee along with Janet Diaz of Lancaster City, Janet Spleen of Manheim Township and Lauren Edgell of Lancaster City; the three women with the highest number of votes will be elected. Three men are unopposed for Lancaster County’s three male seats on the Democratic State Committee.
For the political parties’ county committees, there are many polling places that do not have a full slate of candidates on the ballot, making it likely that people will be elected there with write-in votes. In the Elizabethtown Area and Donegal school districts, Republicans have a full slate of candidates in nine of the 22 polling areas: East Donegal Township/Maytown, East Donegal Township/Maytown West, Mount Joy Borough/ Florin, Conoy, West Donegal Township/District 1, West Donegal Township/ District 4, Elizabethtown Borough/Ward 1, Elizabethtown Borough/Ward 2 and Elizabethtown Borough/ Ward 3, Precinct 2. Democrats have a full slate of candidates for party committee in six of the 22 polling areas Marietta Borough/ District 2, Mount Joy Borough/West, Mount Joy Township/Cloverleaf, West Donegal Township/District 1 and West Donegal Township/ District 4. In all other polling areas of the Elizabethtown Area and Donegal school districts, there are fewer than two people running for two committee positions, making it likely that write-in votes will get someone elected.