State and congressional races for 2024 election will take shape this week
BETHLEHEM, Pa. — The 2024 election cycle will come into focus this week as political candidates file their petitions by Tuesday's deadline to appear on ballots in Pennsylvania's April primary.
This year's races promise to be high-stakes affairs across the Keystone State.
While most eyes will be on the presidential race — a likely rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump — down-ballot races could have an enormous effect on politics in Harrisburg and Washington.
Pennsylvania voters will weigh in on races for U.S. Senate, the U.S. House, the state's row officers and the General Assembly.
But to earn their party's nomination, candidates first have to file petitions bearing voter signatures in order to appear on the primary ballot.
The exact number of signatures needed varies depending on the office sought. Candidates for president and U.S. Senate need the John Hancocks of 2,000 voters registered with their party.
Hopefuls for the U.S. House and attorney general will need 1,000 while state House candidates need just 300.
While gathering more signatures than required isn't necessary, most candidates prefer to do so. Getting far more discourages opponents from challenging signatures in hopes of knocking them off the ballot and often is viewed as a barometer of their support in the community.
Here's a look at some of the Pennsylvania races to watch.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, a Democratic scion of Pennsylvania politics, is seeking a fourth term in office. He's expected to face Republican challenger Dave McCormick, a retired Army captain who served as undersecretary of the treasury during President George W. Bush's administration.
Democrats hold a one-seat majority in the Senate, and Republicans view Pennsylvania as a battleground that could allow them to regain control of the chamber.
Political observers said Casey, the son of a popular former governor, has strong name recognition across the state and would be tough to defeat.
McCormick, the former chief executive officer of the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, has deep enough pockets to make massive contributions to his campaign.
However, he's drawn criticism over his residency. While he is a Pennsylvania native currently residing in Pittsburgh, public records indicated he lived in Connecticut as recently as last spring, according to the Associated Press. Before voting in the 2022 GOP primary, he hadn't cast a ballot in Pennsylvania since 2006, the AP reported.
McCormick was the only Senate candidate to have filed a petition with the state as of Friday afternoon.
The U.S. House
2023 proved to be historically dysfunctional for the divided chamber. It took days to swear House members in when the narrow Republican majority couldn't initially rally around a speaker candidate.
U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., eventually earned the nod but lost his gavel in October when members of the conservative Freedom Caucus rebelled.
New Speaker Mike Johnson has struggled to get his majority on the same page. The House still hasn't passed a budget, addressed funding for Israel, Taiwan and Ukraine or found a compromise on securing the border.
Both parties now hope to make gains across the country. Democrats hope to take back the majority while Republicans want a bigger margin to make it easier to pass their agenda.
While all 17 of Pennsylvania's U.S. House seats on the ballot this year, the main political parties have targeted five as up for grabs.
Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional District, which includes the Lehigh Valley, is one of three currently held by Democrats that Republicans hope to flip.
Democratic incumbent Susan Wild is seeking a fourth term. Republicans Ryan Mackenzie, Kevin Dellicker and Maria Montero are competing for the chance to defeat her in the November election. Dellicker and Mackenzie had filed their petitions with the state as of Friday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Democrats hope to oust two Pennsylvania Republicans from the House — Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Bucks County and Rep. Scott Perry of York County.
Pennsylvania's row officers
Not all of Pennsylvania's executive powers are vested in the governor.
Other offices include attorney general, the state's top law enforcement officer; auditor general, who acts as the state's fiscal watchdog; and treasurer, who oversees and manages the state's financial assets.
Those three offices are all on the ballot this year.
Michelle Henry, who was appointed attorney general after Josh Shapiro left the office to become governor, is not running.
Seven candidates have announced intentions to succeed her. The Pennsylvania Republican Party formally endorsed York County District Attorney David Sunday ahead of the primary; he was the only Republican to file his petition as of Friday.
Democrats Eugene DePasquale, a former auditor general; Joe Khan, a former Bucks County solicitor; Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer; and Keir Bradford-Grey, a former chief public defender in Philadelphia and Bucks counties, had turned in their petitions as well.
Lehigh County Controller Mark Pinsley hopes to challenge Republican incumbent Tim DeFoor for auditor general in November.
But first, he'll have to win the Democratic primary over state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, who received an endorsement from the state party in December. All three had filed their petitions as of Friday.
Republican incumbent Stacy Garrity and state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, are expected to compete for the state treasurer race in November. Both have been endorsed by their respective parties, and both have filed their petitions with the state.
PA General Assembly
All 203 seats in the state House of Representatives will be on the ballot this year, as well as half of the 50 state Senate seats.
In the Lehigh Valley, voters will decide who will represent the 11 local House districts; the three state senators still have three years left on their terms.
State Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, one of three Republicans running for the Lehigh Valley's congressional seat, is the only incumbent not seeking re-election.
Republican former state Rep. Gary Day is running for his 187th House District, which covers most of north and western Lehigh County. Voter registration in the district favors Republicans.
The tightest race may occur in the 137th House District, which includes Nazareth, Palmer Township and Bethlehem Township.
The 2022 redistricting process made it one of the most competitive in the state, and Republican incumbent Joe Emrick defeated Democratic challenger Anna Thomas by a 2.2 percentage point margin in 2022. This year's campaign is expected to be a rematch of the two candidates.
Races like the 137th could have a dramatic impact in Harrisburg. The Democratic majority in the House has disappeared at times due to resignations, deaths and military tours. Republicans need to flip just one seat to regain control of both chambers of the General Assembly.
Editors Note: This story has been updated to better reflect the residency of U.S. Senate candidate Dave McCormick.