Schmitt will place 79th District first

Outgoing McGinnis puts state as priority

The lawmaking philosophy of the 79th state House District may be heading for reorientation — from wide- to narrow-focused, from an approach that always takes account of the whole state to one that locks in on the local — despite the hopes of incumbent John McGinnis.

On primary election night, McGinnis, campaign manager for losing Republican candidate Sharon Bream, congratulated winner Lou Schmitt, a virtual shoo-in for the seat, then said he was confident Schmitt would be a lawmaker like himself — with a statewide, rather than a district focus, based on what he heard Schmitt say at a recent candidates’ debate.

Afterward, Schmitt disagreed with McGinnis’ interpretation of what he said at the debate and with McGinnis’ expectation that he’ll concentrate on Pennsyl­vania as a whole, rather than on the 79th.

“You’re not there for your district alone,” McGinnis said.

“The No. 1 corruption” in the General Assembly is the belief that lawmakers should vote primarily based on the interests of their particular constituents, McGinnis said.

It’s actually the obligation of lawmakers to “put the commonwealth first,” McGinnis said.

Unfortunately, “almost no one believes that way,” he said.

Consequently, most have “no compunction about screwing the rest of the state,” he said.

Regardless, Schmitt plans to focus on the 79th.

His first loyalty will be to local constituents, then to the people in the rest of Pennsylvania, then, depending on the issue, to the people in the other 49 states, Schmitt said, when told of McGinnis’ hopes.

Statements made by Schmitt for his pre-election profile in the Mirror also indicate his intention to concentrate locally:

“Our state representative should be someone who is able to put Altoona and Blair County on the map in Harrisburg,” he said. “As a state representative, I will focus on those state issues which are important to Altoona, Logan Township, Allegheny Township and Blair County. …”

No Democrats ran in the primary for the 79th seat.