Voters to weigh primary options

Today’s primary should bring a temporary end to the political advertisements and campaign postcards that have become a staple in recent weeks.

If Blair County’s turnout is similar to the 2010 primary when the same offices were on the ballot, then 20 to 30 percent of Blair County’s registered Republicans and Democrats will make time today to vote. Like four years ago, the ballot contains candidates for the offices of governor, lieutenant governor, congressional seats, state representatives and committee seats.

In the 2010 primary, 28.2 percent of the county’s registered Republicans and 20.9 percent of its Democrats voted.

That’s when Republican Tom Corbett, former state attorney general, sought his first term as governor.

While Corbett has no gubernatorial challengers on today’s ballot, a three-way contest on the Republican ticket for the 9th District congressional seat could push turnout higher.

“I would be thrilled if we get more than 30 percent turnout,” Blair County Republican Party Chairman A.C. Stickel said.

In the 9th District, incumbent Bill Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg, is attempting to retain the party’s nomination sought by challengers Art Halvorson of Bedford County and Travis Schooley of Franklin County.

Stickel said the party takes a neutral position for the primary but is watching the competition closely.

“I think Bill obviously has a wide range of support … but I wouldn’t completely count out Travis Schooley,” Stickel said.

On the Democratic ticket, the most competitive race is the four-way contest to select a nominee to face Corbett in the fall. Candidates are: York businessman Tom Wolf, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, state Treasurer Rob McCord and Katie McGinty, former secretary of environmental protection.

Democrats also have a choice among lieutenant governor candidates Mike Stack, Mark Critz, Mark Smith, Brandon Neuman and Brad Koplinski.

“On statewide races, our Democratic voters should come out en mass because every vote we cast is going to count,” Blair County Democratic Party Chairman Frank Rosenhoover said.

Like Stickel, Rosenhoover said he would be happy with a 30 percent turnout of Democratic voters. But that might be influenced by a lack of local Democratic candidates in some races.

History explains the lack of candidates, Rosenhoover said, pointing to minimal success Democrats have had in Blair County, dating back to the mid-1800s.

Blair County has 97 voting precincts. One polling location has changed since November. Residents of Altoona’s 4th Ward, 2nd Precinct, who usually vote at the Pleasant Valley Assembly of God, are being directed to the Altoona Area High School Auditorium, 1415 Sixth Ave.

This change is for the primary only, according to the county elections office.

Others polling locations are listed under or on the Blair County website at Election-related information can be found by clicking on the county departments and checking for elections office/voter registration.

For this year’s primary, Blair County has 45,594 Republicans and 27,937 Democrats.

Because Pennsylvania has a closed primary, voting is restricted to registered members of the two major political parties.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.