By Karen KaneEmbattled state Senator Jane Orie of McCandless, who holds the 40th state Senate District seat, appears to have secured another term in office.
Based on preliminary vote totals, Ms. Orie defeated late-coming Democratic challenger Dan DeMarco, a Ross commissioner who began his campaign after it was disclosed that the incumbent senator was under investigation for misuse of her office staff and resources.
The 40th district comprises northern Allegheny County and southern Butler County.
In Allegheny County, the contest between the two attorneys -- both of whom were graduated from Duquesne law school -- tracked very closely throughout the evening, with Mr. DeMarco taking an early lead only to be nudged aside by Ms. Orie. With nearly all precincts in Allegheny County tabulated, Ms. Orie won the North Hills.
On the other side of the Senate district, Butler County voters gave Ms. Orie a big and early jump -- and she continued to outpace her opponent throughout the evening. Though ballots still are being counted in Butler County, it appears impossible for Mr. DeMarco to close the gap there.
Though Ms. Orie can boast another term of office, it will begin in January under the cloud of a pending criminal trial. The former prosecutor is scheduled to face charges in February in Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas on criminal charges that she used her office staff and resources to advance the Supreme Court campaign of her sister Justice Joan Orie Melvin. She has denied the charges and claims that she is the victim of a political vendetta.
She was elected to the state House in 1996. In 2000, she won her current seat in a special election, succeeding Melissa Hart, who had been elected to Congress. She had served as the majority whip in the Senate since 2007 but stepped down after she was indicted.