Cutler, Aument draw challenges in GOP primary | PA Power and Policy

Two Republican lawmakers from Lancaster County appear set to face primary contests from challengers who believe Republican electeds in the Legislature failed to do enough to overturn the 2020 election in favor of former President Donald Trump.

Anne Weston, a chiropractic assistant from Quarryville, filed an application to petition for challenge state Rep. Bryan Cutler, the top Republican in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Weston is supported by Audit the Vote PA, a group formed last year to push the false narrative about the 2020 election being stolen. Her website questions Cutler’s 2019 vote for Act 77, which reformed Pennsylvania’s election law to eliminate straight-ticket voting and to no-excuse absentee ballots.

Cutler, of Peach Bottom, was first elected to the state House in 2006 and was the elected House Speaker in 2020. In the wake that year’s election, Cutler publicly criticized the Department of State’s handling of the vote but maintained he and his colleagues did not have the authority to overturn the results. Still, he joined more than 60 of his colleagues in a letter asking the state’s congressional delegation to dispute the awarding of Pennsylvania’s electoral votes to Joe Biden but also called that just a way to keep options open while litigation was still being considered.

More recently, Cutler acknowledged that he has been in contact with the House January 6 Committee. Though he provided no details about those talks, it’s suspected that the committee is looking for more information about two calls Cutler had with President Trump in December 2020.

36th Senate District

In the 36th Senate District, Mike Miller of Ephrata Township, filed nominations to challenge incumbent Ryan Aument.

Miller is active in efforts by Audit the Vote PA to sell the false claim that Trump really won Pennsylvania in 2020. He spoke at protesters outside Cutler’s office and home on Dec. 30, 2020, urging Cutler to use his power as House Speaker to reverse the election results. Miller went on to lead an unofficial canvass of Lancaster County addresses last summer on behalf of Audit the Vote PA.

Miller is a financial adviser with an office in Manheim Township.

Aument, elected in 2014, serves as secretary of the Senate Republican Caucus. Both he and Cutler were endorsed by the Republican Committee of Lancaster County earlier this month.

Democratic primers in 49th and 96th

One Democratic lawmaker, state Rep. Mike Sturla, is being challenged as he seeks a 17th term. Dana Hamp Gulick of Manheim Township filed a petition to run against Sturla in the newly created 96th House District, which includes the northern half of Lancaster city and much of Manheim Township.

Hamp Gulick is an account executive for Stoner Bunting Advertising. In 2020, she ran unsuccessfully against GOP state Rep. Steve Mentzer in the 97th District.

April D. Weaver, who lists her occupation as social worker is the only Republican who filed, petitions for the 96th District seat.

As expected, the newly created 49th House District will see two Democratic members of the Lancaster city council face off for their party’s nominations.

Janet Diaz and Ismail Smith-Wade- El filed petitions to run in the district, which includes the southern half of Lancaster city, Lancaster Township and Millersville. Smith-Wade-El received the endorsement of the Democratic Committee of Lancaster County,

The 49th is considered to be the strongest Democratic district in the county, but one Republican filed a petition – Anne Rivers of Lancaster Township, lists her profession as a marketing consultant.

3-way GOP primary in 98th

In House District 98, three Republicans filed petitions to run in the primary: Tom Jones, a business owner and the Donegal GOP area chairman; Lu Ann Fahndrich, a Mount Joy Borough councilmember and longtime state House staffer; and Logan Hoover, a staffer for US Rep. Lloyd Smucker.

The RCLC did not make an endorsement in this race, though Fahndrich enjoys support from the incumbent, state Rep.Dave Hickernell, who is retiring at the end of this year.

Five Republican House members with districts in Lancaster County face no primary challenge: Mindy Fee in the 37th District, Brett Miller in the 41st, Keith Greiner in the 43rd, Steven Mentzer in the 97th, and David Zimmerman in the 99th.

Petition challenges

Challenges to candidates’ nominations can be filed up to seven days after Monday’s deadline, which would be heard in the county Court of Common Pleas. While challenges do happen, they are uncommon.

The last day to register for the May 17 primary is May 2. For more information, go to votespa.com.

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