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Pennsylvania State House 40th District: A guide to the 2022 primary and candidates

90.5 WESA

What's at stake: The 40th District spans two counties — Allegheny and Washington — and while Upper St. Clair and Peters Township are widely considered Republican bastions, the politics here can be nuanced. Two-term GOP incumbent Natalie Mihalek faces a Trump-style challenge from Stephen Renz, but 2020 results suggest Trumpist messaging is not universally popular in parts of USC or Bethel Park. No Democrat has filed for the race.

Note: Campaign finance fundraising totals include contributions raised in 2021 and 2022. Data updated 5/12/22.

Natalie Mihalek

Natalie Mihalek
Mihalek campaign
Natalie Mihalek

Mihalek is the kind of Republican who traditionally does well in the South Hills suburbs: a U.S. Navy vet with experience as a prosecutor, appealing to business groups and even a conservative union or two. Among Republicans, the American Conservative Union ranks her in the middle of the GOP in terms of her conservatism, but she’s opposed to abortion rights and firearm restrictions. She's also recently taken up the ever-popular cause of liquor store privatization.

Party: Republican
Experience: Pennsylvania House of Representatives – 40th District (2018 – present)
Education: University of Pittsburgh (B.A.); Appalachian School of Law (J.D.)
Links: Website | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry; National Federation of Independent Businesses; Allegheny County FOP Lodge 91; Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation
Fundraising total: $75,176

Steve Renz

Renz is the kind of Republican who has become an increasingly visible presence in the party: He has adopted “Make Votes Count Again” as a campaign slogan, and he criticizes more moderate Republicans as well as Democrats. His campaign foregrounds voting issues and denounces Mihalek and other Republicans who supported Act 77 of 2019, which enabled easier mail-in balloting. He was formerly a board member in the Brentwood School District and now serves as vice chair of the Peters Township Republican committee.

Party: Republican
Experience: Brentwood School Board (1993-1996), Key account manager selling commercial building controls (2011 – present)
Education: Keystone Oaks High School, Parkway West VoTech
Links: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: None currently available
Fundraising total: $21,119

Your guide to the elections for Allegheny County executive, district attorney, treasurer, council and more.

Nearly three decades after leaving home for college, Chris Potter now lives four miles from the house he grew up in -- a testament either to the charm of the South Hills or to a simple lack of ambition. In the intervening years, Potter held a variety of jobs, including asbestos abatement engineer and ice-cream truck driver. He has also worked for a number of local media outlets, only some of which then went out of business. After serving as the editor of Pittsburgh City Paper for a decade, he covered politics and government at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He has won some awards during the course of his quarter-century journalistic career, but then even a blind squirrel sometimes digs up an acorn.
Emily Previti is a podcast producer and data journalist for Kouvenda Media.