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Pennsylvania Primary Update

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Voters Decide Party Nominees for Key Positions in the Keystone State

Jezree Friend is the senior government relations representative at the Manufacturer & Business Association. Contact him at 814/833-3200, 800/815-2660 orjfriend@mbausa.org.

While trying to keep up with COVID-19 restrictions impacting our personal and professional lives, it’s been easy to overlook our electoral responsibilities. Pennsylvania, for instance, just had its primary election. If you were confused by the date or ballot, allow me to provide clarity.

Pennsylvania’s primaries are always the third Tuesday in May. However, every four years, during a U.S. presidential election, it is the fourth Tuesday in April. This adjustment was made to give the Pennsylvania primaries more attention and hold more weight for party nominees. This year really mixed it up when the primary date was moved to June 2 to coincide with stay-at-home orders by the governor.

By then, the presidential candidates and most of Pennsylvania’s congressional nominees were already locked up. However, Pennsylvania, with its title of largest full-time legislature in the nation and its lawmakers among the highest paid in the country, was again looking for public support. All of Pennsylvania’s 203 House members and 25, or half, of its senators were up for their party’s nominations. For those who practiced your constitutional rights, I commend you.

Outside of the above races, important Pennsylvania row officers are also on the ballot for the November 3 general election. Here is what you need to know and why:

Pennsylvania’s auditor general is the chief fiscal officer of the Commonwealth. The office performs financial audits of state agencies, municipal governments, school districts, public sector pensions, entities
that receive state funding supports and corporate tax returns. These audits are designed as an accountability mechanism and serve to ensure that public money is spent in an appropriate manner. Additionally, the agency undertakes performance audits, which are designed to determine program efficiency and effectiveness. The current auditor general has reached his two, four-year term limit, which makes it a true open seat.

Tim DeFoor, the current Dauphin county controller, won the Republican nomination and former Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Nina Ahmad won a heated Democratic nomination from a crowded field.

Pennsylvania’s attorney general is the chief law enforcement officer of the
Commonwealth. The office represents the Commonwealth in all actions brought by or against the state and reviews all proposed rules and regulations by Commonwealth agencies. This includes organized crime and public corruption, as well as civil litigation on behalf of some, but not all, Commonwealth agencies and the civil enforcement of some state laws, including those pertaining to consumer protection and charities.

Josh Shapiro is the current attorney general and won the Democratic nomination for a second term. Heather Heidelbaugh, a partner with Pittsburgh’s Leech Tishman and former Allegheny County counselor, merited the Republican nomination.

Coming up last is the Pennsylvania state treasurer. The main responsibility is to safeguard and manage the state’s financial assets. Taxes and other sources of revenue collected by the state are deposited with the Treasury. The department uses that money to make payments on behalf of state government. The Treasurer also conducts investigations of loss, theft or fraud involving Commonwealth checks; approves real estate leases by Commonwealth agencies; and is required to make available certain government contract information for public inspection by posting it on a publicly accessible website.

Joseph Torsella is the current treasurer and was nominated by the Democrats for a second term. The Republicans nominated Stacey Garrity, the vice president of a global supplier of refractory powders and decorated retired Army colonel who received national attention after being dubbed “the Angel of the Desert” for overseeing an Iraqi prison camp without a single complaint of abuse.

As we all know, the November 3 general election is just around the corner. Cast an informed vote and make your voice heard!