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

Pennsylvania State House 35th District: A guide to the 2022 general election and candidates

90.5 WESA

What’s at stake: Republican Don Nevills, a Navy veteran with municipal utilities authority and redevelopment authority board seats under his belt, is challenging incumbent Democrat Austin Davis for the 35th District seat. Davis also is seeking the lieutenant governor’s office. If he wins both races and opts to ascend to the statewide position, then a special election will be held to fill the seat. Davis initially won his seat representing suburban Pittsburgh in Harrisburg by special election in 2018 and was re-elected in 2020.

Austin Davis

Courtesy of Friends of Austin Davis

Davis has spent much of his life in politics and the Pittsburgh area, including in his hometown of McKeesport. A former aide to County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, his accomplishments in the areas of affordable housing development and gun violence prevention during his time in Harrisburg were cited by City & State PA; the political news outlet included Davis on its "2022 Pennsylvania Forty under 40" list. The youngest and first Black state representative elected from his district in 2018, Davis would be the state’sfirst Black lieutenant governor if he wins that race.

Party: Democratic
Experience: Pennsylvania House of Representatives – 35th District (2018 – present)
Education: University of Pittsburgh (B.S.)
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Candidate surveys: WESA Candidate Survey; League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: Human Rights Campaign, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO and other labor groups
Total contributions (2021-2022): $3,165,264.54
Total expenditures (2021-2022): $3,008,510.21
(Note: Includes contributions/expenditures for lieutenant governor race).
Worth reading:
"Austin Davis announces bid for lieutenant governor, backed by Josh Shapiro" (Chris Potter, WESA)

Don Nevills

Image courtesy of Don Nevills

Nevills, 58, runs Planet Tattoo in Clairton. Born and raised in western Pennsylvania, Nevills entered the U.S. Navy after high school and served for 14 years. He served on the board for Clairton's redevelopment authority and ran for the 18th Congressional District in 2019. He spent a year on the Clairton Municipal Utilities Authority before stepping aside to focus on his campaign in the 35th State House District.

Party: Republican 
Clairton Municipal Authority Board member (2021 – 2022)
Redevelopment Authority of the City of Clairton Board member (2011 – 2012)
Education: Clairton High School
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn
Candidate surveys: WESA Candidate Survey; League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: LifePac, Gun Owners of America, Firearm Owners Against Crime
Total contributions (2021-2022): $2,260.00
Total expenditures (2021-2022): $2,064.08
Worth reading:  “Cleaner air, but not clean enough for Mon Valley residents” (Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Updated: October 8, 2022 at 8:24 AM EDT
This story was updated to show that Nevills no longer owns Jolly Roger Tattoo Supply and now owns Planet Tattoo.
Emily Previti is a podcast producer and data journalist for Kouvenda Media.