Published Tue Nov 08, 2016 2:00 AM EST
The big question in today’s election, of course, is whether the country will elect Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump as its next president.
The key for both of them will be Pennsylvania with its 20 votes in the Electoral College, and crucial to taking the commonwealth will be winning southwestern Pennsylvania, including Fayette, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
For years, Democratic presidential candidates could count on local residents to support their campaigns. But all of that changed in 2000 when Westmoreland County residents voted for George W. Bush over Al Gore. Residents there have voted for GOP candidates in every subsequent presidential election.
Voters in Fayette, Washington and Greene counties switched sides in the 2008 election supporting John McCain over Barack Obama. It was the first time Fayette County voters supported a Republican presidential candidate since they backed Richard Nixon back in 1972, when he was running against George McGovern.
All four counties supported Mitt Romney four years ago when he ran against Obama, and all four are expected to back Trump in today’s election. Trump will need to do even better than Romney did if he hopes to carry Pennsylvania.
Local voters also will have a big say in the U.S. Senate race where incumbent Republican Pat Toomey is facing a challenge from Democrat Katie McGinty. Toomey won all four local counties when he beat Democrat Joe Sestak back in 2010. However, he only won Greene County by 19 votes and Fayette County by 131 votes. He’ll need to do much better in those counties today to defeat McGinty, who’s expected to do very well in the Philadelphia area.
The Republican Party has also fielded legitimate candidates for the first time in ages in all five local legislative races on the ballot today. The races feature two open seats as Democrats Pete Daley and Ted Harhai decided not to seek re-election. Running in the 49th District to replace Daley are Democrat Alan Benyak and Republican Bud Cook and aiming to follow Harhai in the 58th District are Democrat Mary Popovich and Republican Justin Walsh.
Three incumbents are running, including Democrat Tim Mahoney in the 51st District, Democrat Pam Snyder in the 50th District and Republican Ryan Warner in the 52nd District. They’re being opposed respectively by Matt Cowling, Betsy McClure and Jim Mari.
Also on the ballot is a race in the 9th Congressional District between Republican Bill Shuster and Democrat Art Halvorson. Democrat Adam Sedlock is running a write-in campaign for the office.
The Herald-Standard’s editorial board endorsed candidates in a number of races. We’re not trying to tell you who to vote for as much as we’re trying to get you to think about whom you’re voting for or against. We tried to judge the candidates on their merits, and we hope you do the same.
Here’s a list of the candidates we endorsed:
n U.S. Senate, Toomey
n 9th Congressional District, Shuster.
n 49th Legislative District, Benyak.
n 50th Legislative District, Snyder.
n 51st Legislative District, Mahoney.
n 52nd Legislative District, Warner.
n 58th Legislative District, Walsh
We supported the referendum which basically extends the retirement age for state and county judges from the age 70 to 75.
It goes beyond saying that no matter which candidates you’re supporting you need to get out today and vote today. The candidates have been telling us for months what they think. Now it’s your turn to tell them what you think.