Funding act supporters win re-nomination

May 29, 2014

Transportation funding advocates are fond of noting that following the gas-tax increase of 1997, no incumbent who supported the increase lost his or her seat because of it.

This year – at least through the primary – the same holds true. Many incumbents who had previously supported Act 89, including Reps. Mark Keller, Stan Saylor, Mauree Gingrich, Patty Kim, Karen Boback, Margo Davidson and Seth Grove, won their party’s nomination fairly handily.

Rep. Ryan Aument, who also supported the funding act, was nominated for a vacant Senate seat. Kristen Phillips-Hill, running for a vacant House seat, defeated a tea party candidate to win the nomination.

Of the handful of incumbents who lost their bids for re-nomination and who supported Act 89, their vote clearly was not the main reason. Some are facing criminal charges, and one was thrown into a district with a fellow incumbent following legislative redistricting.

Rep. Mike Fleck faced a challenge from a very well funded tea party candidate and lost in the Republican primarily, mainly for non-transportation reasons, but this week election officials announced that Fleck had secured the Democratic nomination thanks to write-in votes. It will be an interesting General Election in Huntingdon County, where the business community was solidly behind the funding issue.

“In retrospect, it causes you to wonder why the ‘conventional wisdom’ holds that transportation funding is a proverbial heavy lift,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner. “Historically, the positives that result from an adequately funded transportation program – improved safety, congestion relief and the creation of thousands of family-supporting jobs – trump the modest increases in user fees.”


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