Four-way Republican fight could just be the start in state Senate's 31st District

Written by Emily Previti/Keystone Crossroads | Apr 27, 2016 4:18 AM

State Rep. Mike Regan, R-Cumberland/York, won a four-candidate Republican primary for the 31st District state Senate seat.

(NEW CUMBERLAND) -- The winner of the GOP primary for a seat held for more than a decade by Pat Vance isn't the candidate the longtime lawmaker backed.

Vance threw her support behind Jon Ritchie, a 41-year-old retired NFL fullback who's now an on-air analyst and assistant coach for the football team at his alma mater, Cumberland Valley High School.

Ritchie trounced lawyer Scott Harper and dentist Brice Arndt.

But not state Rep. Mike Regan, R-York/Cumberland.

Regan's supporters were celebrating at Nick's 114 Café in New Cumberland well in advance of the victory speech he gave while surrounded by his wife Fran and their four children, along with allies including Senate President Pro Tem Jake Corman.

But Regan, 54, says the outcome wasn't a foregone conclusion.

"Jon has a lot of name recognition, and Senator Vance was supporting him," Regan said.

So, how'd Regan top that?

"The ground game, my ties and roots in the community and the fact that I'm a sitting state representative," he said. "And I had a lot of peole working really, really hard. Tirelessly."

And key statehouse Republicans stepping forward: in addition to Corman, Regan named House Speaker Mike Turzai, three-term Blair County state Sen. John Eichelberger, state Rep. Seth Grove of York, Rep. Stephen Bloom of Cumberland, and Senator Scott Wagner of York County.

At one point, Harper accused Wagner of trying to manipulate the election, which Wagner denied.  

Ultimately, Regan spent nearly $300,000 to Ritchie's $150,000 or so.

What's next

There was no Democratic candidate in the 31st district, but Regan wasn't resting easy yet.

"We'll have to see where I end up, if I ultimately get there, ya know? This is only a primary. I certainly didn't win the general election yet," he said.

His campaign manager heard Ritchie might try a bid as a write-in candidate.

We caught up with Ritchie a couple miles away at Duke's Bar and Grill in Lemoyne, where he'd monitored results in an upstairs room overlooking the Susquehanna River. Three hours after polls closed, the scene was subdued compared to the boisterous bar where Regan's camp kept celebrating.

"I have no idea what to say to that," Ritchie said Tuesday of a write-in campaign. "That's not part of my plan at this point. Everything is very immediate and new, and I haven't given that any thought whatever.

Published in Carlisle, Cumberland County, News, York

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