When Eugene DePasquale sought both the Pennsylvania auditor general's office and his 95th state House seat at the same time in 2012, we called foul.

He couldn't legally hold both seats, and he said he'd resign from the House if he happened to win the pair. It was simply a fall-back plan in case DePasquale's statewide bid was unsuccessful.

But a best-case scenario for the candidate was a loser for voters of 95th District, who would be shut out of big part of the process to replace him.

And that's just what happened. DePasquale won both races, triggering a special election for the House seat.

Unfortunately, county Democratic and Republican committees - not voters - choose candidates for special elections. No primary. No field for voters to choose from. Just two names, selected for them.

It's not how the system should work; voters are supposed to have choices.

Yet less than a year later we're in a similar situation, preparing for a special election to replace Republican state Sen. Mike Waugh, who resigned his 28th Senate District seat this week.

Again, a small group of party leaders will select two candidates for the rest of us.

The only consolation is this time the winner of the special election will serve only the few months remaining in Waugh's term, whereas last year's winner, Kevin Schreiber, was elected to almost a full term in the 95th House District.


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In fact, the winner will have to begin campaigning almost immediately if he or she wants keep the seat, since Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley scheduled the special election for March 18, just two months before the May 20 primary.

The haste to replace Waugh, plus the suddenness of his departure - he had already said he wouldn't seek re-election when his term ends in December - prompted some to question if a "back-room" deal had been made to tilt the race in the heavily Republican district.

Scott Wagner, a tea party supporter not afraid to thumb his nose at the mainstream GOP, previously announced a run for 28th District. He said he thinks the resignation and special election are part of plot to give another Republican candidate an incumbent's edge in the election for the seat.

Bob Kefauver, who chairs the Democratic Party of York County, shared those suspicions, citing the timing of last year's special election.

At the time, lawmakers said the 95th District election was scheduled for the same day as the primary so taxpayers wouldn't be on the hook for a separate election, which can run a pretty penny.

For example, a Department of State official said the March 18 election is expected to cost between $150,000 to $200,000.

"They were willing to do the economically responsible thing last year, but not this year, and that adds more fuel to the fire with the chatter ... that this was all done to freeze out Scott Wagner," Kefauver said.

We agree the state should have delayed the election a few months until the primary, considering the costs associated with earlier balloting.

It might be a stretch, however, to read into it a concerted effort to weaken Wagner's campaign.

Yes, the power of incumbency is real, but that's usually because the candidate has name recognition, a voting record and a proven campaign machine behind him or her.

Someone on the job for two months in the 28th District basically will be an incumbent in name only.

The real issue, we feel, is the same one we saw last year - voters disenfranchised from an important part of the election process.

We can only hope the county political parties mitigate the harm by selecting their candidates in open meetings and involving the public every step of the way.