Deadlines Set on 45th Senate District Challenge

December 17, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Politics & Elections

A federal judge in Pittsburgh has given Republican challenger Nicole Ziccarelli until Dec. 23 to demonstrate why her attempt to throw out more than 2,300 mail-in ballots in Allegheny County should proceed.

Those ballots give a 73-vote lead to state Sen. Jim Brewster, Democrat of McKeesport, in his bid for re-election to a third full term — and on Wednesday, Senate Democratic leaders declared victory for their colleague after the Pennsylvania Department of State certified the results.

“While we have been confident for some time that Sen. Jim Brewster would be returning to the Pennsylvania Senate, the official certification comes as a relief and we congratulate him on the win,” said state Sen. Jay Costa of Forest Hills, who also serves as senate minority leader, in a prepared statement.

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Federal Judge Denies Injunction in Vote Count

December 01, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Politics & Elections

A federal judge in Pittsburgh has denied a request for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order that would block state officials from accepting some of Allegheny County’s election results.

At issue are 2,349 disputed absentee and mail-in ballots that will likely decide the 45th Senatorial District race between State Sen. Jim Brewster and his challenger, Nicole Ziccarelli.

The ballots in question were signed, but not dated, by voters.

In her request last week, Ziccarelli, Republican of Lower Burrell, asked U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan to prohibit state officials from accepting Allegheny County’s certified results, which include those ballots.

Brewster, a McKeesport Democrat, holds a 73-vote lead out of more than 132,000 votes cast.

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Brewster, Ziccarelli Race Still Too Close to Call

November 24, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Politics & Elections

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has upheld Allegheny County’s decision to count absentee and mail-in ballots that were signed, but not dated.

The 4-3 decision Monday affects ballots in both Allegheny and Philadelphia counties — and is crucial in the 45th Senatorial District race between state Sen. Jim Brewster, McKeesport Democrat, and challenger Nicole Ziccarelli, Lower Burrell Republican.

Brewster and Ziccarelli were tied last week as Westmoreland County officials continued to review disputed ballots. On Monday, after additional ballots were reviewed, accepted and counted in Westmoreland, Ziccarelli moved into a 4-vote lead out of 131,968 votes cast, according to reports posted on the county’s website.

If Allegheny County now counts and certifies its remaining 2,349 ballots, Brewster would move into a 96-vote lead, according to public figures available on the election board’s website.

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Senate Race Tied as Count Continues

November 19, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Politics & Elections

The race between state Sen. Jim Brewster and challenger Nicole Ziccarelli is now tied at 65,978 votes each.

As of Wednesday, Brewster, a McKeesport Democrat, had been leading Ziccarelli, Republican of Lower Burrell, by 28 votes. Brewster is seeking re-election to his third full term representing the 45th Senatorial District.

Westmoreland County on Thursday counted additional provisional and mail-in ballots that had been held for further review. The count added 141 votes for Brewster and 169 for Ziccarelli.

Another court hearing is scheduled on Friday before Westmoreland County Judge Harry Smail Jr. regarding the remaining provisional ballots that have not yet been counted.

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Pa. Supreme Court Asked for Ruling
on 45th District Senate Race

November 18, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Politics & Elections

EDITED to clarify that the current totals do not reflect the disputed absentee ballots.

The future of Pennsylvania’s 45th Senatorial District is now in the hands of the state Supreme Court.

Republican Nicole Ziccarelli of Lower Burrell on Wednesday afternoon filed an emergency petition asking the state’s highest court to use its powers of “extraordinary relief” to rule that 2,349 of Allegheny County’s absentee ballots are invalid and cannot be counted.

State Sen. Jim Brewster, McKeesport Democrat, currently holds a 28-vote lead over his challenger, Ziccarelli. Brewster is seeking re-election to his third four-year term.

The Allegheny County Board of Elections voted 2-1 to accept the ballots, which were signed by voters but not dated. The ballots have not yet been counted.

On Wednesday morning, Allegheny County Judge Joseph M. James upheld the board’s decision.

“In light of the fact that there is no fraud, a technical omission on an envelope should not render a ballot invalid,” he wrote in his decision. “These ballots must be counted.”

Ziccarelli’s attorneys also are appealing James’s decision in Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court.

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Pisciottano, Davis Leading in Early Returns

November 05, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Politics & Elections

State Rep. Austin Davis appears to be headed to his second full term in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, while Nick Pisciottano of West Mifflin is the favorite to replace retiring state Rep. Bill Kortz.

According to unofficial returns from the Allegheny County Elections Division, with all 84 precincts reporting, Davis, a Democrat from McKeesport, received 19,704 votes. Davis was facing a write-in campaign from Don Nevills of Clairton.

The county said 1,643 write-in votes were recorded. All of the numbers are still subject to change and have not yet been certified by county officials.

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Brewster Trailing Challenger in 45th District

November 05, 2020 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Politics & Elections

State Sen. Jim Brewster is one of several Democratic legislators in Pennsylvania who are trailing their challengers following Tuesday’s election.

With all precincts in both Allegheny and Westmoreland counties reporting Thursday night, Republican Nicole Ziccarelli was leading Brewster, the 45th Senatorial District incumbent, by about 1,500 votes, 63,058 to 61,515.

According to Allegheny County officials, more than 35,000 absentee ballots still need to be reviewed on Friday.

County spokeswoman Amie Downs said Thursday those ballots include approximately 29,000 that were incorrectly printed by a vendor, and had to be re-issued, as well as ballots that were damaged and could not be electronically scanned.

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OK, Voters: Time to Vote

November 02, 2020 |

By Bill Phillips | Posted in: Politics & Elections

(Prachatai illustration, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

OK, Tube City Online readers — as Jeff Probst from “Survivor” would say, “it is time to vote.”

All Allegheny County polling places are expected to be open on Tuesday. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. By law, anyone in line at 8 p.m. will be allowed to vote.

To find your polling place, visit this website and enter your address.

Poll workers will be provided masks, gloves, face shields and hand sanitizer. Additionally, there will be clear plastic shields at the sign-in tables. There will also be cleaning materials at the polling place, tape to mark off six-foot distances for voters waiting in line, and extra staff to help enforce the provisions.

Voters will be asked to wear a face covering in compliance with the state order. Those who arrive without a face covering will be offered one.

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38th Legislative District: Linda Book (Republican)

October 29, 2020 |

By Jason A. Mignanelli | Posted in: Politics & Elections

• See Also: Nick Pisciottano wants to close loopholes, support police

When state Rep. Bill Kortz announced his retirement in January, Linda Book had to quickly make her decision whether to run for the 38th Legislative District seat.

“Sam DeMarco (chairman of the Republican Committee of Allegheny County) called me and asked me to run,” said Book, a member of Whitehall Borough council.

She also serves on the board of directors and the board of trustees of the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs and was out of town when DeMarco called, so she wasn’t able to get the petition signatures necessary in time to run in the Republican primary.

Instead, she earned the Republican nomination as a write-in candidate.

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38th Legislative District: Nick Pisciottano (Democrat)

October 29, 2020 |

By Jason A. Mignanelli | Posted in: Politics & Elections

• See Also: Linda Book sees places to trim state budget

Nick Pisciottano, Democratic nominee in the 38th Legislative District, has family roots in Pittsburgh that date back to before the Civil War.

“I really care about the people in my area,” said Pisciottano. “I want them to know that I’m invested here. I’m here to stay. I want these people to be able to succeed. I want to see them get good jobs and support their families and send their kids to good schools.”

Pisciottano credits family members for his desire to work in public service.

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