Following primary, focus shifts to state Legislature open seat races

State Rep. Margo Davidson fended off a close Democratic primary challenge Tuesday, advancing to a general election race that likely will be much less competitive.

Davidson, a two-term incumbent in the 164th Legislative District, took about 52 percent of the vote. Her top challenger, attorney Billy Smith, grabbed about 42 percent. Dafan Zhang, an adjunct professor, gained about 5 percent.

That was the closest an incumbent state lawmaker from Delco came to losing a primary since former state Rep. Steve Freind defeated challenger Ellen Fisher by just 6 percentage points in the 1990 Republican primary for the 166th District.

Yet, Davidson can breathe a bit easier this morning.

She will face Republican Saud Siddiqui in the general election,  but the 164th District is considered a safe Democratic seat, thanks to redistricting efforts that added Lansdowne and parts of Yeadon. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 3-to-1 margin.

With the hotly-contested 164th primary over, much of the local political focus will shift to a pair of open seat races for the state Legislature.

The race for the 26th Senatorial District figures to be one of the most prominent in the state. It is one of six open seat races in the Senate, where Republicans hold a 27-23 majority.

Republicans clearly view the 26th District as critical. Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-9, was amid a group of several Republicans who donated to the campaign of GOP candidate Tom McGarrigle. Pileggi contributed $100,000 — nearly a sixth of McGarrigle’s funding. Retiring incumbent Sen. Ted Erickson gave McGarrigle $25,400.

McGarrigle, the chairman of Delaware County Council, is being opposed by Democrat John Kane, the business manager for Plumbers Local 690. Kane mostly has received his campaign funding from unions.

At the May 5 filing deadline, McGarrigle had $558,266 cash in hand compared to Kane’s $360,716.

The other open seat that will receive local attention is the 163rd Legislative District, where Democrat Vince Rongione and Republican Jamie Santora are vying to replace retiring state Rep. Nicholas Micozzie, a Republican.

The state House is expected to maintain its Republican majority.

Rongione and Santora nearly have an equal amount of campaign funding. Rongione gained $74,091 in campaign funds during the first four months of the year while Santora raised $73,122.

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