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

Pennsylvania State House 55th District: A guide to the 2022 general election and candidates

What’s at stake: The 55th District was held continuously by the Democratic Petrarca family — first by Joseph Sr. and later by son, Joseph Jr. — from 1973 until 2020. Republican Jason Silvis flipped the seat to the GOP in 2020, but after redistricting, he couldn’t hold on during a primary challenge from Jill Cooper, who has long been involved in Republican politics in Westmoreland County. She will face Democratic candidate Scott Gauss, who got onto the ballot after a write-in campaign. The new 55th District stretches across northern Westmoreland County, including Murrysville, New Kensington and Export.

Jill Cooper

Cooper defeated Rep. Jason Silvis, a first-term incumbent, in the Republican primary this past spring in the newly reconfigured 55th District. Cooper has long been involved in politics and business in the region, having served as the former chair of the Westmoreland County Republican Committee and former executive director of the Murrysville Economic & Community Development Corporation. She is running on typical Republican policies, including opposing taxes, defending gun rights and opposing “unilateral” government lockdowns.

Party: Republican
Experience: Executive director, Murrysville Economic and Community Development Corp. (2017 – 2017)
Chair, Westmoreland County Republican Committee (2012 – 2014)
Education: Grove City College (B.S.)
Links: Website | LinkedIn
Survey: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: National Federation of Independent Business; Murrysville Export Republican Committee; International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, District Council 57.
Total contributions: $24,950
Total expenditures: $23,817.91
Worth reading:
Murrsyville GOP organizer will challenge Silvis in 55th District” (Patrick Varine, Tribune-Review)
How 2 southwestern Pa. representatives lost re-election bids to fellow GOP challengers” (Gillian McGoldrick, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Scott Gauss

Murrysville resident and former Boeing human resources director Scott Gauss made the ballot on the Democratic ticket following a write-in campaign during the May primary. Gauss says he supports abortion rights, wants to protect voting rights and outlaw assault weapons, and according to his website, believes former President Donald Trump has “too much influence over Republican Party leaders."

Party: Democratic
Experience: Retired human resources director, Boeing Co.
Education: Indiana University of Pennsylvania (B.A.), University of Phoenix (M.A.)
Links: Website
Survey: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: Pennsylvania AFL-CIO
Fundraising: Has not filed.
Worth reading:
Write-in candidate wins Democratic primary to run for 55th District state House seat” (Richard Cholodofsky, Tribune-Review)

Patrick Doyle oversees WESA's digital strategy and products. Previously, he served as WESA's news director. Email: