PLYMOUTH — Shortly before 11 pm and with the county polls showing him leading by over 600 votes with 100% of precincts reporting, 21-year-old Plymouth Borough councilman Alec Ryncavage declared victory in the Republican primary for the 119th Legislative District.
One of Luzerne County’s most high-profile and hotly-contested primaries in the race for the state legislature, Ryncavage looks to have locked up the Republican nomination for the state representative seat left open by incumbent Democrat State Rep. Gerald Mullery, who opted not to seek re-election after holding the seat since 2011.
Luzerne County’s voting results, accessed via the county website, showed 100% of precincts reporting and Ryncavage holding a 55%-44% advantage, with 658 votes separating Ryncavage from Williams.
Williams, former morning co-anchor at WNEP-TV, said there are over 1,000 mail-in ballots that are yet to be counted in the district.
“We believe there are still votes to be counted,” Williams said after Ryncavage declared victory Tuesday night. “Every voter has the right to be heard. We are waiting for the mail-ins to be added up.”
In lieu of the typical restaurant or fire hall setting for an election night watch party, Ryncavage watched the results roll in from his home in Plymouth, along with family, friends and several folks who helped work the polls on Tuesday.
“I think the theme of this campaign was ‘hustle’,” Ryncavage said Tuesday night. “This was not a solo campaign, this was a team of people… they bought into the campaign.”
Ryncavage praised his opponent Williams as a “strong candidate” who kept him focused on his own messaging.
“I had to make sure the issues I was talking about at the doorsteps of voters was what they wanted to hear,” Ryncavage said. “I had to ensure them that I was the right guy with the most experience, that my age was not an issue.”
Looking ahead to November, Ryncavage is looking to run on his experience and his record on borough council against the lone Democratic candidate Malacari.
“Between Vito [Malacari] and I, the message stays the same,” Ryncavage said. “I have a proven report card of upholding conservative values, a proven report card of working across the aisle and a proven report card of being able to connect with voters.
Ryncavage, 21, was elected to borough council in his hometown of Plymouth in 2019 at just 18 years old. I have declared his candidacy for state representative in February.
Williams spent nearly 30 years as an anchor at WNEP, and his announcement that he was leaving the network in March was followed shortly by his entry into the 119th Legislative District on the Republican side.
The 119th Legislative District, located entirely in Luzerne County, includes the city of Nanticoke, the townships of Fairview, Hanover, Newport, Plymouth, Rice and Wright and the boroughs of Ashley, Edwardsville, Larksville, Plymouth, Sugar Notch and Warrior Run.
In other races:
Haddock holds slight edge, May leads Lombardo in 118th District primaries
In Luzerne County’s only legislative district with more than one candidate on both sides of the primary, one primary is coming right down to the wire while the other appears to have a solid frontrunner.
Jim Haddock held a lead of 102 votes over Allison Lucarelli at press time in the Democratic primary for the 118th District. Both candidates held a decisive edge in their home county, with Haddock outgaining Lucarelli by over 2,000 votes in Luzerne County, while Lucarelli boasted just about the same vote advantage in Lackawanna County.
On the Republican side, Army veteran James May is out in front of Luzerne County councilman John Lombardo by over 1,000 votes, according to returns from the State Department website.
The 118th District includes Pittston City, Jenkins and Pittston Townships and the boroughs of Avoca, Dupont, Duryea, Hughestown, Laflin, West Pittston and Yatesville in Luzerne County. The district also includes several townships and boroughs in Lackawanna County.
Longtime state representative Mike Carroll, like fellow Democrat Mullery in the 119th, opted not to run for reelection this year, leaving the seat open.
The former mayor of Avoca, Haddock currently serves as the Luzerne County Prothonotary. Lucarelli has worked for over 20 years as a pharmacist in both the retail and medical marijuana settings, according to her website.
The Republican race in the 118th, featuring the Army veteran May and the current Luzerne County council vice chair Lombardo, has gotten heated in recent weeks on social media. Lombardo has painted May as a member of Governor Wolf’s administration based on his time with PennDOT, while May has shared video of Lombardo criticizing supporters of President Donald Trump to his campaign Facebook page.
A scheduled debate between the two Republicans was planned for May 9 was canceled, according to May’s campaign page.
Other State Rep results
Two crowded Republican primaries in the 116th and 117th Legislative Districts highlight the only other contested primaries among Luzerne County’s state representative races.
Dane Watro, Jr. was out in front in the 116th at press time, while Mike Cabell was shown to lead in the 117th.
The 116th District encompasses many of the municipalities of southern Luzerne County and parts of Schuylkill County; five Republicans entered the primary to fight for the party nomination.
Watro leads the pack with 2,109 votes across both counties; behind him is Mike LaRocca with 916 votes and John Chura with 765 votes. Gary Perna (580 votes), Nico Makuta (468) and Dyllan Angelo-Ogurkis (367) rounded out the Republicans in the 116th.
In the 117th, Mike Cabell is running out ahead of his four GOP opponents with 3,357 votes. Clint Lanning and Eugene Ziemba trail with 2,603 and 2,559 votes, respectively. Michael Stash was sitting at 1,131 votes and Andy Gegaris at 698 votes.
Several other candidates for state representative went uncontested in their primaries, and barring a surge of write-ins, will advance to November’s general election.
On the Democratic side of the 116th, Yesenia Rodriguez ran unopposed and received 1,052 votes, and results are showing that it will likely be Cabell she’ll be facing in November.
As mentioned above, Vito Malacari ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination in the 119th District; I have received 3,582 votes.
In the 120th, incumbent State Rep. Aaron Kaufer is running unopposed in both parties as the only candidate on the ballot for his 120th District seat. Kaufer was elected to the seat in 2014 on his second try, and will be up for his fifth term in the state legislature this November.
The 121th District featured the Democratic incumbent State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski running unopposed. He’ll look to remain in the seat that he’s held since 2006 against Republican challenger Eryn Harvey, the former deputy election director of Luzerne County who also ran unopposed in her primary.
In their respective primaries, Pashinski received 2,992 votes and Harvey received 2,654 votes.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism