Torsella Wins Treasurer Race, DePasquale Re-Elected As Auditor General
Democrat Joe Torsella will be taking over an office marred by scandal after winning the race for Pennsylvania treasurer.
Torsella, of Montgomery County, beat Republican businessman Otto Voit of Berks County in Tuesday's election.
The 53-year-old Torsella was most recently a presidential appointee to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations.
The treasurer oversees the 360-employee agency that processes $90 billion in payments every year and is custodian of over $100 billion of public money. The office also has been drawn into the state's budget fights and struggles with deficits in recent years.
Two of the last three elected treasurers were embroiled in scandal. One, Rob McCord, pleaded guilty last year to federal attempted extortion charges. Barbara Hafer is facing federal charges in a case that revolves around treasury investment contracts.
All four candidates — Torsella, Voit, Green Party candidate Kristen Combs and Libertarian James Bobb — claimed they were outsiders.
Torsella was a deputy mayor in Philadelphia under then-Mayor Ed Rendell; Rendell then appointed him to be Chairman of the Pennsylvania State Board of Education and he later became U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. for Management and Reform.
Torsella called himself a “common sense problem solver” and has pledged to bring more transparency to the office by posting more data on line where Pennsylvanians can become “citizen auditors.”
Voit, a Desert Storm veteran, is the president of the Keystone Dental Group and has also served as the chief financial officer for several companies. He came into the race having never held an elected position. He wanted to use the funds invested by the treasurer’s office to help grow small businesses and, like Torsella, he wanted to make the office more transparent.
Green Party candidate Kristen Combs is a teacher in the Philadelphia Public School system and has unsuccessfully run for Philadelphia city council in the past. She has been active in fights to keep Philadelphia schools open and to thwart the privatization of the education system.
Libertarian James Babb is an advertising consultant from Montgomery County. His main campaign focus has been to “facilitate the return of the treasure to it’s rightful owners.”
State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is being returned to the job to serve four more years as Pennsylvania's fiscal watchdog.
The Democratic incumbent bested three challengers Tuesday to head an office with more than 400 employees and a budget of more than $50 million.
The agency keeps tabs on state spending and recommends changes to how government agencies operate.
Auditor general has been a political launching pad in recent years. The last three people elected to hold the position all later ran for higher office.
The Democrat was running for a second and final term. He moved into the post from a seat in the State House of Representative, where he served for six years.
DePasquale based his campaign on what he saw as a successful first term. He touted his efforts to use his audit power to find waste in government spending from the state level down to school districts and volunteer fire companies. He has also made headlines in his efforts to help shore up the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s faltering finances and he said he will also use his office to grow the state’s economy.
Republican opponent John Brown currently serves as the county executive for North Hampton County. He has held that post since 2013. Before that he was the mayor of Bangor, Pa. Brown’s top issues during the campaign were fighting waste, fraud and abuse, and helping to reform government.
Green Party candidate John Sweeney from Falls Township, Wyoming County and Libertarian Roy Minet also ran for the office.
Further down the ballot, Pennsylvania voters elected 18 members of Congress.
In the Pittsburgh region, incumbent U.S. Congressman Mike Doyle easily defeated Republican Lenny McAllister in the 14th congressional district, which includes the heavily Democratic city of Pittsburgh.
Republican Tim Murphy, who represents the 18th district, ran unopposed and was reelected.
Incumbent Republican Sen. Keith Rothfus won the 12th Congressional District, defeating Democrat Erin McClelland.
The 12th district is hammer-shaped, extending from Beaver County, across parts northern Allegheny County, and east to parts of Cambria and Somerset counties.
Rothfus focused much of his campaign on growing the economy and helping veterans. The two-term congressman said he would fight for a simpler tax code and few intrusions from the federal government into the operations of businesses.
It was Democrat McClelland's second run at the 12th congressional seat. The psychologist is currently the practice improvement collaborative manager at the Institute of Research Education and Training in Addiction. McClelland has encouraged voters to vote for change, saying she is dedicated to bringing the focus of the office back onto local issues rather than party politics.
The Associated Press also contributed to this report.