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Austin Davis and Carrie DelRosso will face off in the Pa. lieutenant governor’s race this fall

  • By Emily Previti/ WESA

Two Pittsburgh-area candidates will face off in the lieutenant governor’s race this fall.

State Reps. Austin Davis, a Democrat from McKeesport, and Carrie DelRosso, a Republican from Oakmont, won their respective primaries Tuesday night.

“This election is the most consequential election of our lifetime. And to win, we must come together, united, as a party as we head into the fall,” Davis told supporters after the race was called. “We all know what’s at stake in this election. We’re at an inflection point right here in Pennsylvania, in this country.”

Davis made history as the first Black lieutenant governor nominee in Pennsylvania, and his victory in November likewise would be historic. He also is the first Black state representative elected from his House district.

“It was because of a community that loved and cared for one another, a good public school and good teachers, that a young Black kid from a small town too often overlooked by the powers in Washington and Harrisburg was able to grow up to become the first Black legislator to represent a majority white district in Western Pennsylvania,” he said.

Davis, 32, has spent much of his life in politics and the Pittsburgh area.

DelRosso, 46, is a native of Scranton and relocated to western Pennsylvania as an undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh.

DelRosso is now a freshman in the Pennsylvania House representing Pittsburgh’s northeast suburbs, though she was drawn out of her district when the state’s political boundaries were updated recently. She was also in her first term on Oakmont Borough Council when she sought state office.

Before that, DelRosso ran her own public relations firm with clients including Pittsburgh-area school districts, local governments, nonprofit organizations and small businesses. DelRosso has two children, and she says motherhood has prepared her for keeping the peace on the state Senate floor as lieutenant governor.

Davis, who campaigned alongside Democratic gubernatorial nominee Attorney General Josh Shapiro, garnered more than 60 percent of votes Tuesday to finish ahead of State Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia (25 percent) and Montgomery County investment banker Ray Sosa (12 percent).

Shapiro, who was sidelined with COVID-19 during the final days of the primary campaign, ran unopposed.

Republican nominee state Sen. Doug Mastriano, meanwhile, emerged victorious from a field of nine candidates.

DelRosso herself secured the GOP nod for lieutenant governor with just 26 percent of votes cast in a field of nine candidates, a handful with ties to the Pittsburgh region.

Rick Saccone, who previously represented southwestern Pennsylvania in the state House, finished second to DelRosso. New Castle Mayor Chris Frye also ran, as did Jeff Coleman, who twice won a state House seat out of western Pennsylvania two decades ago.

Philadelphia-area hopefuls James Jones and Clarice Schillinger rounded out the Republican list, along with state Rep. Russ Diamond of Lebanon; Northampton County Councilman John A. Brown and Teddy Daniels (whom Mastriano endorsed) of Wayne County.

Despite some controversy and headline fodder in recent years, the lieutenant governor traditionally keeps a pretty low profile and doesn’t have many official duties. Still, those responsibilities are important: The lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate, in addition to heading the state Board of Pardons and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. The job also entails keeping tabs on hundreds of local government agencies across the state.

The position’s significance seems likely to grow on the heels of the pandemic and the chaotic 2020 election, not to mention the Board of Pardons’ central role in long-overdue criminal justice reforms. And there’s always the chance the lieutenant governor will be called upon to cast a tie-breaking vote in the state Senate.

Current Lt. Gov. John Fetterman won the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate Tuesday — a few days after the 52-year-old had a stroke.

DelRosso didn’t respond to requests to arrange an election night interview during the days leading up to the primary.

Austin wasn’t available by phone after the race was called Tuesday, but his campaign posted a video of his victory remarks to its Facebook page.

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