As expected, state Rep. David Argall, the former No. 2 man in the House Republican Caucus, is the GOP nominee to run for the vacant 29th District Senate seat.
His Democratic opponent is Schuylkill County Clerk of Courts Steven Lukach. (The 29h Senatorial District includes parts of Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Monroe, Northampton, and Schuylkill counties.)
The special election to fill the vacant seat will be held on March 3. The 29th Senate District seat opened up when incumbent Sen. James Rhoades died in a car crash just weeks before the Nov. 4 election.
There was no surprise that Argall won the GOP nomination. He's a career politician who has collected favors through the years from Republican leaders. What may come as a shock is how close the race for the GOP nod ended up.
Argall defeated Christopher Hobbs, a Pottsville attorney and son-in-law of the late Sen. Jim Rhoades, by 30-27 on the final ballot to clinch the victory, reports Hank Clarke of The Clarke Report blog.
Argall is loathed by conservatives because of his voting record. He supported the July 2005 pay raise and has backed Gov. Ed Rendell's massive spending plans throughout the years.
If Argall wins the special election, as he is favored to do, Republicans will hold a 30-20 majority in the state Senate. Argall has the advantage of name recognition throughout the 29th District while Lukach is an unknown outside Schuylkill County.
If Argall manages to blow it, the GOP margin will be the same as it was over the past two years, 29-21.
"I am confident that Dave will be a great candidate and when elected he will fight hard for the people of the 29th State Senatorial District," said Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Robert Gleason Jr. "The late Senator Jim Rhoades was a leader who was well-respected as a man who knew how to get things done for the constituents he was elected to represent, and I am confident that Dave will carry on that tradition when he is elected on March 3rd."
Clarke said in a recent blog post that Lukach matches up well against Argall, but my money is on Argall. He'll get plenty of support from the state Republican Party and the Senate GOP Caucus.
The state Senate is the last stronghold for the GOP in Pennsylvania. I don't see see the Republicans allowing the 29th Senate seat to get away.