Republican incumbent Joe Emrick will keep his 137th district state House seat after defeating Democratic challenger Joe Capozzolo Tuesday, according to unofficial results.
With 85 percent of the precincts reporting, Emrick received 16,327 votes compared to 9,473 for Capozzolo, the former Bangor mayor and first-time candidate. All vote tallies are unofficial until certified by county election officials.
"I feel great," Emrick said late Tuesday. "I'm deeply honored to serve the residents of the district for another term. I appreciate the opportunity to go back to Harrisburg and represent them for the next two years."
Emrick won several precincts in Forks Township, all three in Nazareth and also won Tatamy with 342 votes to Capozzolo's 164. He also took Stockertown with 187 votes compared to 158 for Capozzolo.
Emrick, 42, of Upper Nazareth Township will serve his second two-year term in the House. He was previously a schoolteacher and chaired the Upper Nazareth Township Board of Supervisors.
(The 137th House District includes Palmer and Forks Townships, Tatamy, Stockertown, Nazareth, Upper Nazareth Township, Bangor, Washington Township, Upper and Lower Mouth Bethel, Roseto, East Bangor and Portland.)
Emrick's victory helps Republicans maintain control of the state House, which has 203 districts.
Nearly half of the districts had one candidate on the ballot Tuesday, and many others are essentially one-party districts thanks to demographics and years of creative mapping by state lawmakers who want to secure as many seats as possible for their parties, according to a Pennsylvania Independent report.
Emrick, a graduate of Lycoming College and Kutztown University, ran a grass-roots campaign in which he knocked on 6,670 doors in his 13-municipality, 73,000-constituent district.
Emrick was the only candidate for any political office out Tuesday morning greeting voters in front of the Forks Township Community Center.
He touted his accomplishments helping to get government spending under control. In the past two years, Emrick has worked with his colleagues to eliminate a $4 billion state deficit.
Emrick has also held an annual senior health fair in Forks and also legislative breakfasts in Forks and Nazareth.
Capozzolo, 49, having served as a two-term mayor, felt he was more of a people person than Emrick who could give Palmer and Forks townships stronger representation.
The Democrat also said he had a stronger job creation background, serving as vice president of Windjammer Inc., his family's business.
"It looks like I lost," Capozzolo said. "I tried. What are you gonna do. It's hard to beat an incumbent."