Image used by permission 1SarahSmith / Flickr.

A special election on April 5 to fill two Pittsburgh legislative districts in the state house was just the prelude to the upcoming May primary with a crowded list of candidates across the ballot.

When Ed Gainey was sworn in as mayor and brought in Jake Wheatley as chief of staff, it left the 19th and 24th legislative district seats open.

Democrat Aerion Abney, a social worker and community activist, was the only candidate for the 19th, Wheatley’s former district, which includes the Hill District, North Side, South Side and part of the West End.

Democrat Martell Covington defeated Republican Todd Elliott Koger for Gainey’s former district, which includes East Liberty, Homewood, Larimer, part of Point Breeze and Wilkinsburg.

Abney and Covington will represent their districts until the winners of the next general election in November take office. 

They also go into the primary election as newly minted incumbents.

Abney will face Glenn Grayson in the upcoming Democratic primary, but no Republican challengers have filed. Covington will face four challengers in the Democratic primary: William Anderson, La’Tasha D. Mayes, Pearlina Serena Story Nelson, and Randall Taylor. No Republicans have filed to run in that district either.

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Photo by Jennifer Baron.

The Republican primaries for U.S. Senate, governor and lieutenant governor are the crowded races on the primary ballot.

The Democrats have coalesced around Josh Shapiro of Montgomery County, who is currently serving as the state’s attorney general, as their nominee for governor. Shapiro is unopposed in the primary.

On the Republican side of the ticket, there are 10 candidates in the governor’s race: Louis Barletta of Luzerne County, Jacob D. Corman III of Centre County, Joseph Gale of Montgomery County, Charles Gerow of Cumberland County, Melissa Hart of Allegheny County, Douglas Mastriano of Franklin County, William McSwain of Chester County, Jason Richey of Allegheny County, David White of Delaware County, and Nche Zama of Northampton County.

The race for lieutenant governor is also crowded with nine candidates on the Republican side: John Brown of Northampton County, Jeffrey Coleman of Cumberland County, Theodore Daniels of Wayne County, Carrie Delrosso of Allegheny County, Russell Diamond of Lebanon County, Christopher Frye, Jr. of Lawrence County, James Jones of Montgomery County, Richard Saccone of Allegheny County, and Clarice Schillinger of Montgomery County.

By contrast, the Democrats have just three candidates in the race: Austin Davis of Allegheny County, Brian Sims of Philadelphia, and Raymond Sosa of Montgomery County.

Another race hotly contested on both sides of the political aisle is the election to fill the open seat in the U.S. Senate that will be vacated by Republican Pat Toomey.

The Democratic primary will have five candidates: Kevin Michael Baumlin of Philadelphia, John Fetterman of Allegheny County, Malcolm Kenyatta of Philadelphia, Alexandria Khalil of Montgomery County, and Conor Lamb of Allegheny County.

Running on the Republican side are Kathy Barnette, Jeffrey Bartos, Sean Gale and Mehmet Oz, all of Montgomery County, George Bochetto of Philadelphia, David McCormick of Allegheny County and Carla Herd Sands of Cumberland County.

Another hot race is the primary to fill the congressional seat that will be vacated by U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, who represents the newly drawn 12th district (formerly the 18th district) that includes Pittsburgh and Allegheny County suburbs to the east and south.

Voters who are registered Democrats will have five candidates to choose from: Gerald Dickinson and Summer Lee, both of Swissvale, and three city residents, Steven Irwin, William Parker and Jeffrey Woodard.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face off against Republican Michael Doyle of Plum, who shares a name with the current congressman.

The primary election will be held on May 17. The last day to register to vote is May 2 and the last day to request a mail-in or absentee ballot is May 10.

The general election will be held on Nov. 8.

Ann Belser is the owner of Print, a newspaper covering Pittsburgh's East End communities. After receiving a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, she moved to Squirrel Hill and was a staff writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for 20 years where she covered local communities, county government, courts and business.