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Mullery Tops Behrens In 119th Race

November 7, 2018

ELECTION RESULTS: 119th District State Representative Race

Democrat Gerald Mullery will represent the 119th Legislative District for the fifth time after voters chose him over Republican challenger Justin Behrens. Mullery defeated Behrens by 10,220 votes to 9,191 votes according to unofficial results Tuesday night. It was the second time Behrens ran against Mullery for the seat. Mullery represented the district since 2011. Despite the area’s support for President Donald Trump in 2016, he won reelection in that election. It helped that there are about 20,700 Democratic voters and 13,800 Republican voters registered in the district. Some high-profile breaks with Democratic initiatives separated Mullery from his political party. He gave two examples ahead of this year’s election — a state budget impasse in which he was one of few Democrats to support a Republican proposal and House Bill 2138, which created work requirements for people receiving medical assistance. The race turned heated after Luzerne County residents began receiving campaign mailers the week before the election linking Behrens to a neo-Nazi sympathizer. Nanticoke resident Ryan Wojtowicz, who the Southern Poverty Law Center identified as a member of the racist skinhead group Keystone United, circulated petitions for Behrens’ campaign. Behrens, 40, of Wright Twp., said he was not familiar with Wojtowicz or his neo-Nazi beliefs. He also said that as a social worker with Northeast Counseling Services, he works with people of all races and religions, and noted that his grandmother was a Russian Jew and his grandfather emigrated from Cuba to the United States. Mullery, 48, of Newport Twp., said the Democratic party contacted him about the mailer after a gunman murdered 11 Jewish people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in what prosecutors say was a hate crime. He also cast doubt on Behren’s assertion he knew nothing about Wojtowicz’s background prior to the mailer going out. Regarding some of the issues the next representative will address, Mullery and Behrens both supported efforts to eliminate school property taxes and replace them with other taxes. Voters had a choice when it came to a proposal to add a severance tax for natural gas drilling. Mullery wants to add a severance tax and thinks it should incorporate the existing impact fee that drillers already pay. An additional two to three percent severance tax would bring those taxes and fees in line with the taxes imposed by other gas-producing states, he said. Behrens supports the existing impact fee but doesn’t want a severance tax.  

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