Lost in the hype over the presidential contest last night were the results in several congressional districts throughout Pennsylvania. Here are the results that matter.

In the 3rd District (Erie) Kathy Dahlkemper won a four-way primary with 45% of the vote and earned the right to challenge Phil English. This was an extremely strong showing by Dahlkemper. She is ‘director of the Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park and director of human resources with a landscaping company.’ Her biggest issue is global warming, but she also emphasizes ending the war in Iraq.

In the 5th District (State College) there were two competitive primaries to fill the seat vacated by the retiring Republican John Peterson. On the Democratic side, Mark McCracken won a three-way race with 41% of the vote. On the Republican side, Glenn Thompson won a nine-way race with 19.4% of the vote. McCracken is the Clearfield County commissioner and a former Director of Information Technology for Clearfield. This is a district where Bush won 61% of the vote, but it could be competitive.

In the 6th District (Chester County) there was no competitive primary, but Bob Roggio emerged as the official challenger to Jim ‘Landslide’ Gerlach. Gerlach has won his last three elections with 51% of the vote. But Gerlach has a problem.

Nearly 20,000 Chester County voters have registered as Democrats since the beginning of the year, according to data provided by Chester County’s Department of Voter Services.

In that same period, Republican registration has dropped by about 4,500, and the number of voters registered with other parties or no party has dropped by about 4,000.

Gerlach could easily become a victim of Pennsylvania’s competitive Democratic primary. But Roggio is going to need a lot of money to introduce himself to the district.

In the 7th District (Delaware County) Craig Williams will be challenging Rep. Joe Sestak. Sestak is probably safe, but this is an historically Republican seat and Sestak is a freshman.

In the 8th District (Bucks County) Tom Manion will challenge freshman Patrick Murphy. Manion’s son died in Iraq, while Murphy is the only Iraq War veteran serving in Congress. Murphy is a fantastic politician, but he won this seat by about 4,000 votes. We can’t take this seat for granted.

In the 10th District (Williamsport) Chris Hackett won a two-way primary with 52% of the vote. He will take on Democrat Chris Carney is this heavily Republican district. The only reason Carney won this seat two years ago is because Don Sherwood strangled his mistress and alienated his base. This will be one of the five best pick-up opportunities for the Republicans in the fall.

In the 15th District (Allentown) Siobhan ‘Sam’ Bennett is running on an Obamanesque message of hope and change. The incumbent is Charlie Dent, who is one of the more moderate Republicans left in the House. In 2004, Kerry carried this district with 49.9% of the vote. It’s a textbook swing district, and a legitimate pickup opportunity.

In the 18th District (southern Pittsburgh suburbs) Steven O’Donnell won a three-way race with 45% of the vote. Beth Hafer received 41% of the vote. O’Donnell is a former Navy corpsman and life-long advocate for the mentally retarded. The Republican incumbent, Tim Murphy, won reelection in 2006 with 58% of the vote against an unfunded opponent. Bush carried this district in 2004 with 54% of the vote.

So, these are the congressional battlelines in Pennsylvania for the fall. Please visit the candidates’ websites and see if you can in good conscience support any of them. We have a chance to pick up a few of the seats, but we’ve got to get cracking.

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