A March 18 special election to fill the state senate left vacant by incumbent Republican Mike Waugh will be York County's first election under reapportionment maps approved last year, and having the election separate from the May 20 primary could cost state taxpayers an extra $145,000 to $200,000.
One Democrat and three Republicans plan to run for their parties' nominations during the special election to fill the seat until the winner of a November general election takes seat in January 2015. Tuesday was full of developments in the race after Waugh on Monday announced his resignation and was appointed to head the state's farm show complex.
Republicans Rep. Ron Miller, R-Jacobus, businessman Scott Wagner and political newcomer Zack Hearn announced they want the York County Republican committee to consider them for the GOP ballot position in the special election. A Democrat who has not yet announced his candidacy has asked for the local Democrats to name him to the ballot, and other Democrats are considering, said Bob Kefauver, who chairs the county's Democratic Party.
President York County Commissioner Steve Chronister, who had been considering a run, announced he won't run for either the special election or the primary.
Miller could legally run for both the Senate seat and re-election to his House seat, but he would be able to assume only one office and would have to decline the other, said Ron Ruman, press secretary for the Department of State.
Miller said Tuesday he will run only for the Senate seat if he's chosen to appear on the Republican ballot for the special election, but he'll considering running for both seats if the county Republican committee selects a different Republican for the early race.
Miller would face at least one primary challenger if he decides to also run for re-election in the 93rd House District. York Township tea party Republican Ernie Merisotis is also running for the House seat, and York County Republican Committee chair Bob Wilson said a handful of other Republicans are considering running.
Little time: Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley announced the special election date Monday, and the nine-week time frame emboldened Wagner's earlier contention that Republicans were trying to fast-track Miller into the seat because he's the preferred Republican.
On the opposite end of the political spectrum, Kefauver also took exception to "swift" date-setting, as it took state Republican leaders double the time to fill the Democratic 95th House seat left vacant by Eugene DePasquale last January.
While the 95th House race was pushed back to the May primary to save the cost of a separate special election, Cawley said Monday that leadership didn't want to leave York County residents without representation as the legislature begins budget talks and considers other consequential legislation.
But Kefauver said he didn't buy that "professed concern" for York County residents, as the state was facing "the exact same issues that were on the legislative agenda in 2013" when Republican leaders found it acceptable to hold the 95th House election on primary day.
Holding a separate special election also costs extra, he said.
The cost: Ruman estimated the cost of the special election at between $145,000 and $200,000, as the county has to pay to move voting machines to dozens of polling places and cover the wages for dozens of poll workers.
The state reimburses the county's expenses, so state taxpayers ultimately field the cost, Ruman said.
"If it were held during the primary, technically there'd be no cost because polls are open anyway," he said.
The state has no policy guiding a preference to hold a separate special election or hold it on a prescheduled election day, so it's up to lawmakers, he said. The only requirements are that they announce the date and hold the election within certain time frames.
The county parties must also operate within certain time frames and, in this case, they must send the names of their special election nominees to the state by Jan. 27, because that's 50 days before the election.
When asked about the extra cost and nine-week schedule, Wilson said he's sure a "vast majority" of York County residents want representation at the budget table. If they don't have it, there's a chance their interests won't be heard. There's only one senate district that covers York County exclusively, he said.
A resident of the 95th House District, Wilson said he also wanted DePasquale's seat to be filled earlier, but the date wasn't scheduled according to his preferences.
New boundaries: Ruman said the new district boundaries wouldn't typically be used for elections until November, but special elections are exceptions.
While reapportionment added a handful of municipalities and subtracted a handful of municipalities for the new map of the 28th, all of the candidates who have announced their candidacy still reside within the necessary boundaries.
-- Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.