Democrats select veteran attorney

Blair County judicial candidate Dave Andrews won the Democratic nomination in Tuesday’s primary, leaving him with a decision to make on how hard to campaign in the fall.

“I’ll have to look at where the votes came from, and consider what I want to do,” Andrews said Tuesday night after sharing the news with his campaign crew at the Bavarian Hall.

Andrews, a registered Republican, and his supporters were disappointed with his third-place finish in the Republican contest. Unofficial totals show Andrews receiving 3,090 votes, behind winner Wade A. Kagarise with 4,635 votes and Fred B. Miller’s 3,906 votes.

“It’s very disappointing because [Andrews] is the candidate with all the experience,” supporter Aimee Auerbeck of Altoona said. “And it’s not just his legal expertise. It’s all the contributions he has made to the community too.”

On the Democratic ticket, unofficial totals showed Andrews finishing first with 1,596 votes. Miller came in second with 1,568 votes and Kagarise placed third with 1,415 votes.

The results set up a Kagarise versus Andrews contest in the fall, but Andrews will be the underdog based on party affiliation. As of Tuesday’s primary, the county had 46,666 registered Republicans and 28,662 registered Democrats.

Supporters said they’re ready to stand behind Andrews.

“Unquestionably,” Republican Deborah Kissel of Pinecroft said. “I’ll be there for him if he’s running a campaign in the fall.”

“We’ll support him, whatever Dave decides,” said Republican Cristin Burwell of Hollidaysburg.

“I’ve worked with him,” Republican Louisa Lobre-Riley of Altoona said. “He’s very fair, and he could hit the ground running.”

Andrews said he was thankful for the Democratic nomination and could only guess about his Republican placing. He said he expected fellow candidate Miller to do well in northern Blair County and fellow candidate Kagarise to do well in the southern portion of Blair County, where the Republican Party is strong.

But Andrews said he thought he would be a contender for the Republican nomination with strong support in Altoona.

“Realistically, Wade ran a good campaign,” Andrews said.

Andrews said he didn’t campaign as much as he wanted because he remained committed to his private law practice that keeps him busy, especially with school board meetings in the evening hours.

“From the beginning, I said I didn’t want my clients to suffer,” he said.

Andrews also declined to accept campaign contributions from fellow attorneys and endorsements from politicians or elected officials.

“I think that should be state legislation,” he said. “The key to the judiciary is no partiality … and I wouldn’t want people coming in to the courtroom thinking otherwise.”

Kagarise, who has been active in the Republican party, had the support of the party and endorsements from District Attorney Richard Consiglio and Sheriff Mitch Cooper.

Andrews told his supporters shortly after 10 p.m. that they had won one and lost one.

“Go Democrat,” one shouted in return, causing him to smile as the group applauded.

“To all of you in this room, you have gone beyond anything I could have ever asked for,” Andrews said.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.