Primary Election Analysis: Openly-gay Candidates Win

Deitz, McEntee to Face Republican Incumbents
Sims Bumps Dem Incumbent

By Frank Pizzoli

Three openly-gay candidates achieved victory in the April 24 Primary Election.

Democratic candidates Chris Deitz and Kelly McEntee will face Republican incumbents in the Nov. 6 General Election for their bids to be seated in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Both ran without challengers from within their own party. Philadelphia’s Brian Sims, a Democrat, bumped incumbent state Rep. Babette Josephs.

15th Senate
In the hotly contested 15th Senate seat vacated by longtime incumbent State Sen. Jeff Piccola, Republican John McNally will face Democrat Rob Teplitz in the Nov. 6 General Election.

Democratic political observers talk excitedly about taking back a Senate seat traditionally held by Republicans. Republican stalwarts whisper quietly that Piccola’s role in the recent takeover of Harrisburg City may seriously dent fellow Republican McNally’s chances of holding onto the city which under siege from all sides in a festering fiscal crisis. The district is in Dauphin and York counties.

103rd House
Patty Kim won the Democratic primary vote for the 103rd state House seat vacated by longtime incumbent Democrat Rep. Ron Buxton. He too along the campaign trail had been criticized for playing a silent role in protecting the city’s interests as it faced takeover talk from various stakeholders.

Kim tallied 29% of the vote against a crowded field of four candidates. Coming in a close second was Roy Christ who branded himself an “urban redneck” during the campaign. Kim had received a nod in the Capital Region Stonewall Democrats Voter’s Guide. Christ had received the endorsement of statewide Equality PA, an LGBT organization.

By midday after the election, Christ had released this statement to his email list: “This was a hard fought campaign and I thank all of those who voted for me and participated in yesterday’s election. We will be keeping all of our options open. It would be a disservice to the voters to not wait until the official results have come in.” The state’s official elections return web site was reporting Kim won, in unofficial results, by 45 votes.

Following political tradition in a city-based district comprised of a majority of Democrats, there was no Republican candidate running for the seat until, at the last minute, Bill Cluck, active in the spirited Harrisburg fiscal crisis imbroglio, decided to wage a write in campaign on the Republican side of the primary ledger to have his name placed on the ballot.

Last minute political machinations prompted Gloria Martin-Martin Roberts, herself a Democratic candidate for the seat against Kim who received 19% of the vote, to also conduct a write in attempt on the Republican side. At press time, a final tally of Republican write in votes for Cluck or Martin-Roberts had not been officially announced by election officials. Three hundred or more write in votes are needed to secure a place on the ballot. The district is located in Dauphin County.

During a panel discussion organized by Harrisburg Hope when asked if they would support same-sex marriage by openly-gay Harrisburg City Treasurer John Campbell, Martin-Roberts said, “I do not support” such measures. Christ prompted laughter from the crowd when he said, “If you don’t agree with same-sex marriage, then don’t marry someone of the same sex.” Kim said she thought all citizens should have the same civil rights in every way possible.

When Josh Appleman, representing the LGBT Community Center Coalition, asked the candidates if they would support anti-discrimination legislation regarding employment and other public accommodations, all four candidates agreed they would support such measures. “I’d be honored to support such legislation,” Kim said.

104th House
As expected, openly-gay Chris Deitz won the Democratic primary. He did not face a challenger from his own party. Dietz is a 2011 FAB award honoree for service to the region’s LGB T community and is a proponent of eco-tourism and government reformer.

Nov. 6 Deitz will face incumbent Republican State House member Sue Helm. She ran without her party’s endorsement against Jenna Lewis, who received the party’s endorsement. Helm gained 60.8% over Lewis’ 39.2%. Helm nearly lost her seat two years ago when she ran against activist Gene Stilp when she also ran with the Republican-party endorsement. The district is located in Dauphin County.

105th House
Openly-gay Kelly McEntee will face incumbent Republican Representative Ron Marsico. Neither candidate faced a challenger from within the ranks of their own party for the primary election.

McEntee is a native of Ohio and has been a resident of Pennsylvania since 2005 and Dauphin County since 2009. McEntee and her partner, Angela Dicks, live in Linglestown with their young adult sons. The district is located in Dauphin County.

182nd House
In the 182nd district Brian Sims challenged his old boss incumbent state Representative Babette Josephs. Sims had recently served as her campaign manager. The district is essentially a center city location described as the “gayest” state house district in the commonwealth. Sims carried the vote over Josephs with 51.6% against her 48.4%.
On the day of the election, Sims was named to The Advocate’s Forty Under 40 list.


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