GOP touts success in Somerset County races
Republicans had a huge night in Somerset County Tuesday even as Democrats lauded state and national wins.
A high turnout in Somerset County helped every Republican candidate but one earn between 65 and 78 percent of the local vote.
In Somerset County 62 percent of registered voters went to the polls.
The last time turnout was in the 60s in a midterm election was in 2008 when 67 percent of voters cast ballots.
The turnout was 49 percent in 2014 and 52 percent in 2010.
“That’s the highest it’s been in a while,” Elections Director Tina Pritts said.
Somerset County Republican Party Chairwoman Colleen Dawson said the high voter turnout and the large margins for Republican candidates in Somerset County were encouraging to her.
She was especially happy to see state Rep. Carl Walker Metzgar win by one of the largest margins in the state.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Metzgar received 79 percent of the vote districtwide in a two-man race.
“It truly goes to prove that Carl is working for the residents and the voters of Somerset County every day in Harrisburg,” she said.
While it appears that more Republicans went to the Somerset County polls than Democrats, Dawson believes that many Democrats voted for GOP candidates.
“I think it is a real testament to our candidates,” she said. “They are willing to work across the aisle. (State Sen. Pat) Stefano, (state Rep. Matt) Dowling, Metzgar, they are all willing to compromise to get things done.”
While Dawson was happy with the results, she said the party needs to continue to get out the Republican message ahead of the 2019 local races. She said she is working on plans to improve accessibility to the party.
“Every election you have to take seriously,” she said. “Whether you are an incumbent or not, you need to do your absolute best to get your message out there.”
On the other side of the proverbial aisle, Somerset County Democratic Chairwoman Shelley Glessner said that she is disappointed county Democrats continue to vote “against their best interests.”
“I am very disappointed in the Democratic turnout,” she said. “I really thought they would come out and support the candidates more than what they did.”
Glessner said the party will shift its focus to the 2019 election.
“We need to move on to next year and see where the next year takes us,” she said. “We certainly not giving up.”
Glessner said she was happy to see statewide Democratic candidates see success with the re-election of Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey. Each candidate earned a little less than a third of the vote in Somerset County but cruised to an easy win statewide.
“Statewide the Democrats came out,” she said.
Pritts said Somerset Southwest had the highest turnout of 57 percent, or 1,187 voters. Polling places in Brothersvalley, Somerset, Conemaugh and Stonycreek townships also reported high turnouts.
She said the computation board will begin to certify the votes on Friday.