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An initiative to provide nonpartisan, independent elections journalism for southwestern Pennsylvania.

Pa. State House 34th District: A guide to the 2023 special election between Pagane and Salisbury

90.5 WESA

What's at stake: If Republicans can pick off one of the three open seats in Democratic-leaning districts on Feb. 7, they would gain control of Pennsylvania's House of Representatives. Republicans already control the state Senate, and if they secure the House, they can propose constitutional amendments on voter ID requirements and other matters that would go before voters and bypass Democrat Gov. Josh Shapiro’s veto. If Democrats win all three races, they would gain control of the House for only the third session in the past 28 years.

The district stretches from the eastern parts of the Point Breeze and Homewood neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, through Wilkinsburg to the north, North Braddock to the south and as far east as Wilkins Township. Summer Lee vacated the seat after she was sworn into Congress.

Further reading:
"Former police officer, attorney face off in special election to replace Summer Lee" (Oliver Morrison, WESA)
Swissvale attorney, borough council president Abigail Salisbury eyes run for Pa. House 34th District” (Julian Routh, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
“Allegheny County GOP chooses state house nominees” (Steve Ulrich, PoliticsPA)
“Q & A with Abigail Salisbury” (Sue Kerr, Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents)


Robert Pagane

Oliver Morrison
/
90.5 WESA
Robert Pagane

Pagane grew up in Penn Hills and dropped out of college to enter the police academy. He served for more than 30 years, including five for the Pittsburgh Housing Authority and 21 for Baldwin Borough, with an emphasis on K-9 policing. He’s currently a security guard for UPMC, a martial arts practitioner and a frontman for a local band. His biggest priorities are public safety and cutting taxes, but said he is willing to compromise on some issues with Democrats, including abortion, marijuana legalization and firearm background checks.

Party: Republican
Experience: More than 30 years of police experience
Education: Penn Hills High School; Allegheny County Police Academy
Links: Website | LinkedIn | Facebook
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: Gun Owners of America


Abigail Salisbury

Oliver Morrison
/
90.5 WESA
Abigail Salisbury

Salisbury was born in Ohio and attended Case Western Reserve University for her undergraduate degree and then earned her M.P.P. and J.D. degrees from the University of Pittsburgh. She’s worked as a sole practitioner lawyer since 2015, focusing on small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Salisbury and her husband have attended various synagogues in Pittsburgh. She ran against Summer Lee in the 2022 Democratic primary but lost.

Party: Democratic
Experience: Salisbury Legal (2015 – present)
Education: Case Western Reserve University B.A.; University of Pittsburgh, M.P.P.; University of Pittsburgh Law School J.D.
Links: Website | Facebook
Candidate surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: AFL-CIO; Planned Parenthood; Allegheny-Fayette Labor Council; Victory Fund; Emily’s List; Represent PA; Clean Water Action; Pennsylvania State Education Association

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

Oliver Morrison is a general assignment reporter at WESA. He previously covered education, environment and health for PublicSource in Pittsburgh and, before that, breaking news and weekend features for the Wichita Eagle in Kansas.