Local Democratic and Republican party leaders have begun preparing for the special election to replace state Sen. John Blake.
Select Republicans and Democrats will choose their party nominees for the special election, but candidates registered as independents or in other parties can get on the ballot, too, through a different process.
A lot of details remain unknown, including the election’s date and exactly when the main political parties will nominate candidates, but party officials provided some details of the processes for replacing Blake, whose resignation takes effect March 8. Blake announced last week he will resign for a job as U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright’s district director.
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman has 10 days after the resignation to set the special election date, which is expected to coincide with the May 18 primary election. All voters, regardless of party registration, can vote in the state Senate special election, but not for the other public offices at the primary. Primaries are usually only for choosing Democratic and Republican nominees.
The 22nd Senate District includes all of Lackawanna County and small parts of Luzerne and Monroe counties.
On the Republican side, the state party oversees the process. In districts spread across more than one county, Republican state bylaws call for appointing conferees from each county who would listen to potential candidates and vote on nominating someone, Lackawanna County Republican Party Chairman Lance Stange Jr. said.
Votes cast for former President Donald Trump will determine each county’s share of the conferees. For each 1,000 or fraction of 1,000 Trump votes, a county gets one conferee, based on the state party bylaws, Stange said.
Lackawanna County would have 53 because Trump received 52,334 votes here.
Figuring Luzerne’s and Monroe’s conferees gets trickier. In Luzerne, the district includes only Avoca, Dupont and Duryea boroughs and Pittston Twp. They cast 4,240 votes for Trump, according to figures posted on Luzerne’s election results webpage. That would give Luzerne five conferees.
In Monroe, it’s Barrett, Coolbaugh and Price townships. They cast 4,940 votes for Trump, according to figures posted on Monroe’s election results page. That would also give Monroe five conferees. In all, that’s 63 conferees.
Stange cautioned he hasn’t received official instructions from the state party. The instructions will lay out the process in greater detail, he said. So far, he’s going by the state bylaws. He expects the directions to include information on where prospective candidates should apply.
Stange said he has asked the state party for guidance on whether he or someone else names the conferees.
County Democratic Chairman Chris Patrick said committee members from each voting precinct in the district will choose nominees at a virtual nominating convention that hasn’t been scheduled. Each precinct has two committee members. In Lackawanna County, which has 163 precincts, that adds up to 326 members.
The Luzerne towns total 10 precincts, or 20 committee members. The Monroe towns total seven precincts, or 14 members. That’s 360 in all.
State Democratic Party spokesman Brendan Welch said interested candidates will submit biographies or resumes to the three counties’ Democratic parties, and eligible voting committee members will get copies. Members will vote electronically, by telephone or, in Lackawanna’s case, in person. More details will be announced later, but Patrick said he’s aiming to schedule the meeting for March 13.Independent and other party candidates can also get on the ballot. They will need at least 1,185 voters to sign nominating papers, Lackawanna County Director of Elections Beth Hopkins said.
So far, state Rep. Marty Flynn, D-113, Scranton, Rep. Kyle Mullins, D-112, Blakely, and attorney Francis McHale of Scranton have said they will seek the Democratic nomination. On the Republican side, only attorney Dominic…