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Pennsylvania State Senate 38th District: A guide to the 2022 primary and candidates

90.5 WESA

What's at stake: This race in a district that stretches across the northern portion of Allegheny County could turn into a competitive general election fight for first-term Democratic incumbent Lindsey Williams, who does not face a primary opponent. Williams narrowly won her state Senate seat in 2018, though her district has become somewhat friendlier to Democrats since then. State Rep. Lori Mizgorski and public defender Jake Roberts hope to flip the seat back to the Republican party. If either of them prevails in the November election, the GOP could further solidify its hold on the state legislature. The district covers North Hills suburbs, Allegheny River towns, and East End neighborhoods in Pittsburgh.

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


Lindsey Williams

Lindsey Williams
Lindsey Williams for PA
Lindsey Williams

Williams joined the state Senate in 2019 after serving as communications and political director for the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers. The West View lawyer supports increased funding for public education, although she has criticized spending on charter schools. She says she believes the state should tax business profits, capital gains, and other wealth at a higher rate than wages and interest. Popular with labor unions, Williams has advocated for a $15 minimum wage. In April, she broke with her party by backing an unsuccessful attempt to stop Pennsylvania from joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which aims to cut carbon emissions.

Party: Democrat
Experience: Pennsylvania Senate — 38th district (2019 – present)
Education: Dickinson College (B.A.); Duquesne University (J.D.)
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Candidate Surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: Allegheny County Democratic Committee; Pennsylvania AFL-CIO; Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates; Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers.
Fundraising Total: $283,575


Lori Mizgorski

Lori Mizgorski
Courtesy the Mizgorski campaign
Lori Mizgorski

State Rep. Mizgorski jumped into this race after being drawn into a heavily Democratic state House district during this year’s legislative reapportionment process. The Shaler resident emphasizes her desire to fund public education, infrastructure, and workforce development programs without raising taxes. She says she believes Pennsylvania must change its tax structure to encourage business growth. She supported a GOP-backed investigation into the state’s 2020 election results despite a lack of evidence of any widespread issues or fraud. Before joining the legislature in 2019, Mizgorski worked as an aide to her predecessor, now-retired state Rep. Hal English.

Party: Republican
Pennsylvania House of Representatives — 30th district (2019 – present)
Shaler Township Supervisor (2009 – 2019)
Education: Hood College (B.A.)
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Candidate Surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: Former state Rep. Hal English (R-30). Complete list here.
Fundraising Total: $13,850
Worth reading: "Republican Lori Mizgorski, drawn out of state House district, will take run at 38th District Senate seat" (Julian Routh, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Jake Roberts

A resident of Ross Township, lawyer Jake Roberts says he decided to run for state Senate because he finds Mizgorski’s “conservative credentials” to be inadequate. He, meanwhile, has staked out a position decidedly to the right, vowing to protect gun rights and calling for a voter ID requirement. He opposes school mask mandates and the teaching of critical race theory, saying parents should be heavily involved in K-12 education. He’s the lone full-time public defender in Clarion County. Given that Pennsylvania is the only state not to fund indigent defense, he suggests he could work with Democrats to ditch that outlier status.

Party: Republican
Experience: Chief Public Defender, Clarion County (2020 – present)
Education: Villanova University (B.A.); University of Pittsburgh (J.D.)
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Candidate Surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: Gun Owners of America Pennsylvania
Fundraising Total: Not yet announced

A primer on voting information and who is running in the 2024 election for offices in the Pittsburgh metro area and Pennsylvania.

Emily Previti is a podcast producer and data journalist, and executive editor and co-creator of Obscured from Kouvenda Media.