Local Dems take state Senate, two House seats
Collett, Malagari, Hanbidge all headed to Harrisburg
After a long election day on Tuesday, the North Penn area woke up to find local Democratic candidates elected to serve as a new state senator and two new state representatives.
Winning candidates Maria Collett, Steve Malagari and Liz Hanbidge all claimed victories on Tuesday night into Wednesday in their local races.
12th Senate District: Collett vs Greenleaf Jr. The next Senator from the state’s 12th District will have a new name, as Democrat Maria Collett claimed victory late Tuesday night over Republican Stewart Greenleaf Jr. for the seat held since 1978 by Greenleaf’s father.
“I feel great. We’re very excited — my opponent called me and congratulated me, and said that he is excited that I will do good things for the district, and said we disagree on some policy issues, but he’s excited to see me represent the district,” she said.
Collett, a nurse and former deputy attorney general in New Jersey, led Greenleaf Jr., an attorney and former Montgomery County controller, by a margin of 54 to 45 percent according to vote totals posted by Montgomery County.
“The voters today said that they were excited about change, and that they were ready for something different. A lot of them said that they were voting for women, and new voices,” Collett said.
Unofficial results posted by Montgomery County had Collett receiving a total of 45,292 votes to 38,045 for Greenleaf Jr., with 31 writein votes for neither and 100 percent of votes counted. Greenleaf Jr. did not respond to requests for comment by press time, but said on Twitter Tuesday night that he was thankful to “all of the people who worked so hard for this campaign.”
“My family and I are overwhelmingly grateful and will never forget it. I just called to congratulate Maria Collett on her victory today. I wish her the best,” he said.
53rd House District: Malagari vs Szekely vs Waldenberger
The 53rd PA House District will also have a new representative, as Lansdale Democrat Steve Malagari claimed victory over Republican Andy Szekely and Libertarian John Waldenberger for the seat long held by retiring Republican Rep. Bob Godshall.
“This win is a testament to hard work, to building relationships with neighbors and fighting for the things we should have had long ago. This belongs to all of us,” Malagari said.
“It tells us that we have a new direction for the 53rd, that we have new leadership for the 53rd, and that we are really excited, happy for the results, and we worked really hard for this,” he said.
Montgomery County’s vote totals had Malagari, a Lansdale councilman, ahead by a margin of 51 percent to 47 for Szekely, a chiropractor and Lansdale’s mayor from 2008 through 2017, with less than 1 percent for Waldenberger, a
small business owner and musician from the Souderton area.
“From the countless hours of door knocking, countless hours of fundraising, countless hours of standing at the polls, not just today but in the primary too; this was two big elections that we had to get through, to get to this point,” he said.
“It was an amazing journey, and we’re really excited to move forward with governing,” Malagari said.
As of Wednesday, Malagari had 13,581 votes to 12,724 for Szekely and 288 for Waldenberger, with 34 of 34 polling areas reported.
Szekely said in a Facebook post Wednesday that a victory “just wasn’t meant to be,” and thanked the voters, supporters, friends and family who helped his campaign.
“There is a silver lining to all this in the many new friends I’ve gained and the steadfast loyalty of old friends who have remained true. I have also had the unique opportunity to travel (bike) throughout the 53rd District to witness its bounty and to talk to so many different people,” Szekely said.
“It is certainly something I won’t soon forget. I wish Steve Malagari the best in the Pennsylvania State House,” he said.
Waldenberger said late Tuesday he thought the high turnout was a good sign for third party candidates like himself.
“I think it’s safe enough to say it’s over for me at this point... This is only the beginning, taking a little break, and then on to the
next task,” Waldenberger said.
61st House District: Harper vs Hanbidge
Democrat Liz Hanbidge, an attorney and child advocate from Blue Bell, claimed a victory over incumbent Republican representative and attorney Kate Harper.
“I’m thankful for all of the people who voted and stepped forward to make their voices heard. I’m excited to represent constituent’s interests in Harrisburg, and I look forward to getting to know them personally,” Hanbidge said in a statement Tuesday night.
“May we be as gracious in victory as we might have been in defeat,” she said.
In a Facebook post showing a victory speech Tuesday night, Hanbidge thanked her volunteers and campaign staff, and said voters sent an unmistakable message. “The 61st District has never been represented by a Democrat. Today, we changed that. Today, we made our voices heard. Today, we’ve lifted up so many incredible progressive leaders ready to do us proud. Thank you for raising your voices for me. Thank you for lifting me up. I am ready to do you proud,” she said.
As of Wednesday, unofficial vote totals had Hanbidge ahead with 53 percent and 17,625 total votes to 46 percent and 15,186 votes for Harper, with 12 writein votes and 34 of 34 areas counted.
Harper said late Tuesday night she had just called Hanbidge to concede, and to wish her well.
“It’s been an honor to serve the people of the 61st Legislative District for 18 years. I met a lot of wonderful people, and I was part of a lot of wonderful things, and so I hope that she has success, and does a good job for us,” Harper said.
“I love this place. I want it to be well-represented, so I do hope she’s successful as our state rep. Today was an amazing day for many, in many respects. The number of people at the polls was shocking, and I think that’s good: democracy works better when the people participate in ‘government by the people,’” she said.
When asked about future plans, Harper said it was too soon to look past election day.
“I haven’t thought that far ahead. When God closes a door, he opens a window,” she said.
151st House District: Stephens vs Johnson Rothman
Republican Todd Stephens, a former prosecutor for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office before his election to the state House, appears to have defeated Democrat challenger Sara Rothman Johnson, an education law attorney, former deputy district attorney and Upper Dublin School Board member. “The results are in and I’m honored to have been re-elected to the PA House of Representatives. Thanks so much for the faith you’ve placed in me to continue representing our community in Harrisburg,” Stephens said in a post Wednesday.
As of Wednesday, Stephens led by a margin of 51 percent and 15,269 votes to 48 percent and 14,438 votes for Johnson Rothman, with 15 write-in votes and 36 of 36 municipalities reporting. Johnson Rothman did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
152nd House District: Murt vs Boling
As of Wednesday, voters in the 152nd District appear to have re-elected their state representative.
Incumbent Republican Tom Murt, a retired U.S. Army staff sergeant and former Upper Moreland Township commissioner and school board member, claimed victory for another
term in the seat he has had since 2007.
Results posted by Montgomery County put Murt ahead of Democrat challenger Daryl Boling, the CEO of an arts management company, by a margin of 54 to 45 percent.
“I am very grateful to everyone who worked at the polls for me, dropped literature, posted signs, hung door hangers, contributed money, and every other type of help that a candidate needs to be successful. I could never have done it without you,” Murt said late Tuesday.
With 33 of 33 areas reported, unofficial results had Murt receiving a total of 15,150 votes to 12,511 for Boling, with 11 write-in votes for neither.
Boling said early Wednesday that “we have only just begun. Tonight may not have turned out the way that we had hoped, but I am more hopeful than ever that, together, we have all played a part in a moment in history. A moment in time.”
“I may not have won the race, but we all 100 percent are winning the larger battle for our humanity,” Boling said.
The Montgomery County District Attorney’s office received “a handful of calls” about election related problems Tuesday, but none in the North Penn area and none that required investigation, according to Kate Delano, Director of Communications for the DA’s office.
“A few calls were about wait times, lines and parking issues, which reflects positively on the turnout,” she said.