Election surprises minimal

Despite the intense voter interest that it generated, primarily due to what’s been happening on the federal level, Tuesday’s mid-term election didn’t deliver much in the way of big surprises to people of Blair and adjacent counties.

An exception was in Cambria County’s 71st state House district, where Republican Jim Rigby sent to the sidelines five-term incumbent Demo­crat Bryan Barbin in what was Rigby’s fourth attempt to win the seat.

Some people might have been surprised that three-term 12th District Republican Congressman Keith Rothfus was defeated in Pennsylvania’s new 17th District, but the Rothfus loss really wasn’t shocking because the district has a 71,000-voter Democratic registration edge.

Still, Rothfus’ loss to Conor Lamb, who’s served less than a year in Con­gress, the result of the resignation of a GOP congressman, was unexpected by many people.

As for Blair County residents, they went to bed Tuesday night not experiencing any of the proverbial pins and needles regarding undecided races.

Altoona dermatologist John Joyce had won election easily to become the new 13th District’s congressman, succeeding retiring Congressman Bill Shuster, who represented what will become Pennsylvania’s former 9th District once Joyce takes office.

Voters here knew early-on that incumbent Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf had won re-election to a second four-year term, and that incumbent Demo­crat Robert Casey Jr. had been victorious for a third six-year term in the U.S. Senate.

Four years from now, barring some expected development, a new governor will be elected, since Wolf is not permitted to seek a third consecutive term.

As with Joyce’s election success, shocking developments didn’t materialize for state House seats of interest to Blair voters.

Republican newcomer Lou Schmitt was unopposed for the 79th District House seat; Jim Gregory, another GOP newcomer, was elected easily to succeed Rep. Judy Ward in the 80th District, as was Republican incumbent Rep. Richard Irvin in the 81st District.

Ward was victorious in the 30th District state Senate race, becoming the first woman to be elected to that seat. She’ll succeed Republican Sen. John Eichelberger Jr., who ran unsuccessfully in the GOP spring primary for the 13thDistrict congressional seat.

But the fact that surprises didn’t dominate the mid-term balloting from Blair and adjacent counties suggest that the statewide and national election results will be a source of attention, going forward.

For Pennsylvania, the question becomes whether Wolf and the still-Republican-controlled state Legislature will be able to build a more harmonious relationship than they’ve had during the governor’s initial four years. Especially on the state budget front, that is in the best interests of all state taxpayers.

Wolf must become more in tune with the goals of lawmakers; lawmakers should seek ways to compromise with the state’s chief executive.

On the national front, it’s anyone’s guess what the future might hold, with Democrats having won control of the House of Representatives, while the GOP on Tuesday bolstered its control of the Senate.

How well President Donald Trump will be able to work with a divided Legislature is open to serious question, based on his actions and success rate during the first 22 months of his presidency, while the GOP has controlled both the House and Senate.

The bitter divisiveness in Washing­ton must at least be toned down, if it can’t be eliminated.

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