Scheller likely to get rematch in congressional race, Mackenzie wins battle of incumbents
Two state Senate races too close to call, including Sen. Pat Browne's 16th
Note: This story was updated to reflect latest unofficial vote totals in the 7th District Republican primary.
Republican congressional candidate Lisa Scheller is likely headed to a rematch with Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Susan Wild with unofficial results showing her in the lead for her party's nomination in a close race in Tuesday’s primary.
The race has national implications as Republicans will look to flip the House to their control, and the 7th District, according to several analyses, leans slightly Republican.
Scheller, a former Lehigh County commissioner and chairman and CEO of Silberline Manufacturing in Schuylkill County, defeated political newcomer Kevin Dellicker of Heidelberg Township by 1,710 votes. The 7th District was redrawn to cover Lehigh, Northampton and Carbon counties and a small part of Monroe.
Meanwhile. two races were too close to call.
In an election night stunner, Jarrett Coleman had a 30-vote lead over incumbent Pat Browne, a state senator since 2005 and chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, in the 16th Senate District Republican primary. Coleman, an airline pilot, was elected last year to the Parkland School Board on an anti-mask and anti-critical race theory platform. The district includes parts of Lehigh and Bucks counties. Bucks County’s election website appeared to indicate results were incomplete.
And in the 14th Senate District Democratic primary, Allentown School Board Director Nicholas Miller held a narrow lead of 78 votes over Northampton County Commissioner Tara Zrinski, as each candidate built a large lead in their home county. That worked to Miller’s advantage since the Lehigh County side has the larger population.
In a GOP primary battle of incumbents, Ryan Mackenzie handily defeated Gary Day in the newly drawn 187th District. And in the 134th District, incumbent state Rep. Peter Schweyer easily won his Democratic primary battle.
All vote totals are unofficial.
7th Congressional District
Susan Wild, D, incumbent: 62,330
There were few differences on issues between the two conservative candidates.
Dellicker, 51, runs his own business and is a 26-year National Guard veteran who served a total of four tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In the campaign, Scheller not only had the advantage of better name recognition but also far outraised Dellicker.
By contrast, Dellicker’s campaign showed $32,450 in contributions and $23,466 in expenses.
Dellicker said he countered those advantages with a strong grassroots campaign. But in the end, he appeared to fall only 1,710 votes short of winning the nomination and had won in Lehigh and Carbon counties.
State Senate and House races
Senate District 14
Nick Miller, the son of Lehigh County Judge Michelle Varricchio, said he would work to make sure all basic education funding flows through the fair funding formula. Urban districts like Allentown struggle under the current formula, which only uses 11% of basic education funding. He also feels women have a constitutional right to abortion.
Dean Browning won his first race in 11 years thanks to a strong showing in Lehigh County. The former Lehigh County commissioner has closely aligned himself with former President Donald Trump in recent years, but that didn’t help his 2018 or 2020 campaigns for Congress. At the start of the race, he focused on his strong stances supporting the 2nd Amendment and rolling back mail-in ballots. After the Supreme Court draft ruling on an abortion case was leaked, he updated his campaign website to say he is “unequivocally pro-life” and will oppose all abortion unless the mother’s life is endangered.
Cynthia Miller, a longtime Lehigh Township supervisor, led in Northampton County. However, she ran largely on her name recognition, raising just over $3,500 for her race compared to sums of more than $25,000 from Browning and Maldonado. Maldonado, a political newcomer from Allen Township, largely self-funded his campaign.
The winning Democrat would appear to have an advantage heading into the general election. The new 14th Senate district, with its population base in Allentown and Whitehall Township, favors Democrats. However, there are significant Republican enclaves in Northampton County.
Nicholas Miller: 8,781
Tara Zrinski: 8,703
Yamelisa Taveras: 3,203
Dean Browning: 8,052
Cynthia Miller: 4,862
Omy Maldonado: 3,396
Senate District 16
Pat Browne, incumbent: 16,972
Jarrett Coleman: 17,002
Mark Pinsley, 21,697
House District 22
Allentown City Council member Joshua Siegel won the Democratic nomination in the 22nd House District, defeating Saeed Georges, a political newcomer who works as a mental health case manager.
Siegel, 28, captured 64% of the vote.
The 22nd, which covers parts of Allentown and Salisbury, has no incumbent because it was reconfigured under mandated redistricting.
The district is 70 percent Democratic, which will give Siegel an edge when he faces former Allentown School Board member Robert E. Smith Jr., the lone Republican candidate in the primary, in November.
Siegel describes himself as a progressive and campaigned on a promise of giving a voice to Allentown, particularly the financially beleaguered Allentown School District.
Joshua Siegel: 1,700
Saeed Georges: 959
Robert E. Smith Jr.: 1,123
House District 134
Incumbent Peter Schweyer coasted to victory in the Democratic primary for the 134th House District, posting 2,831 votes to Enid Santigao’s 1,652, according to unofficial results.
It was quite a turnaround when the two faced each other in the 2020 primary for the then-22nd District. Schweyer won by only 55 votes.
Now the two candidates live in the reconfigured 134th, which no longer includes as much of Center City Allentown, where Santiago, a residential and commercial property owner, fared well in 2020.
Schweyer and Santiago approached the race with tenacity with Schweyer and two others challenging Santiago’s nomination petition and Santiago winning in court. They also campaigned heavily in Emmaus, where neither have been part of the political scene.
Schweyer will face Brent Labenberg, president of Emmaus Council, in November.
Peter Schweyer, incumbent: 2,831
Enid Santiago: 1,652
Brent Labenberg: 2,684
House District 187
Ryan Mackenzie, who had represented the 134th District since 2012, lives in Lower Macungie Township, which was shifted into the 187th during the once-a-decade redistricting.
Based on population comparisons, a majority of residents — about 57% — from Mackenzie’s current district, the 134th, now live in the new 187th, which likely gave him the advantage.
The contest was costly, with Mackenzie spending $191,989.64, more than twice as much as Day, who spent $86,293.26, according to campaign expense reports for the period ending May 2.
Mackenzie, along with state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who won the GOP gubernatorial primary Tuesday, were two of 64 state senators and representatives who sent a letter in December 2020 to the state’s congressional delegation, urging them to object to Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes for President Joe Biden because of how the election was conducted in the state.
Ryan Mackenzie, incumbent: 5,612
Gary Day, incumbent: 3,539
Senate District 18
Lisa Boscola, D, incumbent: 23,646
John Merhottein Jr., R: 17,084
House District 131
Milou Mackenzie, R, incumbent: 5,146
Kevin Branco, D: 4,275
House District 132
Michael Schlossberg, D, incumbent: 6,482
House District 133
Jeanne McNeill, D, incumbent: 5,983
House District 135
Steve Samuelson, D, incumbent: 6,465
House District 136
Robert Freeman, D, incumbent: 5,008
House District 137
Joe Emrick, R, incumbent: 5,487
Anna B. Thomas, D: 6,231
House District 138
Ann Flood, R, incumbent: 6,008
House District 183
Zach Mako, R, incumbent: 4,208