MCCANDLESS (KDKA) — Former State Sen. Jane Orie was first elected to the state Senate back in 2000, winning a special election in March of that year against Jim Rooney, the son of Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney.
Orie’s resignation in late May set in motion the need for another special election, but the timing of that election seems guaranteed to bring out even fewer voters than ever.
It may be the worst time of year for an election — with lots of folks away on vacation or enjoying the summer pool — but Senate Republican leaders have declared Tuesday, August 7th, as Election Day for Allegheny and Butler County voters to elect a replacement for Orie.
The official call was made by Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley who said he chose an early date to give those North Hills and Butler County residents representation in the state Senate.
In a separate statement, Senate Republican leader Joe Scarnati said the summer time election is needed “in order that the newly elected member has the opportunity to cast votes on several important fall issues including pension reform and infrastructure investment.”
There will be no primary which means local insiders in both parties will pick the two nominees.
On the Republican side, possible candidates include Valencia businessman Doug Austin, Ross attorney Scott Brady, Allegheny Councilman Matt Drozd, Hampton attorney Hal English, former U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart, North Hills school director Jeff Meyers, Butler County Republican Party vice chair Robin Redding, and Allegheny County Republican Party treasurer Karen Shaheen.
On the Democratic side, Ross Township commissioner Dan Demarco — who lost to Orie two years ago — will run again.
Now the Democrats intend to pick their nominee by mid-June as well, so both the Republican and Democratic candidates will have about seven weeks to campaign.
The district has a strong history of voting Republican — and Republican insiders hope that a summer election will be even better for them.
Democrats think they can still win this — especially if more Republicans than Democrats are out-of-town on vacation.
Stay with KDKA for the latest on this developing story.