About an hour ago
Voters in the state House 58th District have seen this race before — seven months ago, to be exact, when Republican Eric Davanzo and Democrat Robert Prah Jr. vied to serve out the remaining time of a vacant term.
Davanzo, 44, of South Huntingdon, won by less than 1,000 votes during a March special election, held a week before Westmoreland County was shut down in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
They will square off again Nov. 3, this time for a full two-year term in a race that both candidates said will have a different feel with high voter turnout expected and an incumbent who now has a voting record in Harrisburg.
“I’m telling voters I’m working for them,” Davanzo said.
Prah, 38, of Rostraver, insists he is the candidate who is on the right side of the issues.
“This guy, he knows if you put the two candidates together and compare the issues, he doesn’t compare,” Prah said.
The 58th district covers Adamsburg, Arona, East Huntingdon, parts of Hempfield, Jeannette, Madison, Monessen, Mt. Pleasant, North Belle Vernon, Penn Borough, Rostraver, Sewickley, Smithton, South Huntingdon, Sutersville and West Newton.
Once a safe Democratic seat based out of Monessen, demographics in the district have changed. In 2016, for the first time in decades, Republicans won the district. Democrats still hold an edge of more than 1,900 registered voters, however.
Nearly 20% of district voters cast ballots in the special election. With voter turnout expected to reach record levels next month, Prah is hopeful that will benefit his campaign.
The director of military and veteran affairs at California University of Pennsylvania, Prah enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves in 2001 and served in Iraq as a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard. He holds the rank of major.
He said his agenda in Harrisburg would include property tax reform, increase funding for police and fire departments to pay for tuition benefits and increasing the minimum wage. He said he supports reducing the number of members in the state House and pledges to donate 17% of his salary to local fire and police departments. He said he will not support future pay raises for lawmakers.
The campaign for Prah has changed since March, as the tenor of the race escalated over the last six months. He bristled at the flurry of negative ads used against him that linked him to Gov. Tom Wolf and national Democratic political figures.
“This has been one of the best experiences of my life, with the exception of the attack ads,” Prah said.
Davanzo, a union carpenter with no prior political experience before winning the special election, said the race is one where the differences between the candidates are substantial with regards to the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Since he took office in March, the pandemic has dominated the legislative agenda that saw Republicans, including Davanzo, seek to overturn the governor’s coronavirus restrictions.
“We have to keep everyone safe, but we also have to get the economy going. Even though we’re losing some of these votes, the one thing I’ve learned out here is that it’s not about who wins it’s about the end results,” Davanzo said, noting that he believes the Republicans continued pressure prompted Wolf to ease some restrictions.
He said the state’s precarious financial situation will be the next major focus for state lawmakers. Davanzo said he will oppose any efforts to raise taxes and wants to see Pennsylvania bolster the natural gas industry as a means increase jobs and improve the economy.
Davanzo said he will continue to reject any new fees on the natural gas extraction.
“I will not vote for a tax increase or anything that takes away jobs,” Davanzo said.
Election | Local | Politics Election | Westmoreland
#Rematch #pits #Davanzo #Prah #race #state #House