Tuesday's primary holds significant races for both major parties in York County, with Democrats rallying to send a Yorker to the governor's mansion and numerous Republicans vying for open seats in the state Legislature.

York businessman Tom Wolf's run for governor has charged the air, boosting Democratic party registration and slightly squeezing the GOP's decades-old stronghold. Longtime Republicans are among those who made the switch, however ephemeral it might be, to vote for the York native who's leading the polls in the state's top race.

The Wolf pack: About 228,540 Republican and Democratic voters met the April 21 deadline for registration, according to the York County Department of Elections and Voter Registration, bumping the county by about 540 over the 2010 primary, when Gov. Tom Corbett took his party's nomination.

County elections director Nikki Suchanic attributed the boost to Wolf's campaign recruiting some new Democrats and stealing some Republicans.

Final registration shows 97,973 Democrats and 130,566 Republicans; the GOP lost 92 voters and Dems gained 235 between April 15 and the April 21 close of registration, according to the department.

"The overall trend is higher for Republicans, but the Democratic trend continued because of Wolf," she said. "There were several dozens of people showing up (in the elections office) on April 21. I think that sort of crowd is a little bit unusual for a (typical) gubernatorial race."


GOP races: The first major local emergence of a pro-business political action committee has set the tone for Republicans, with a few GOP candidates being endorsed by big-spending ally Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania — to the chagrin of some competitors unable to keep up with the cash.

Three of York County's legislative seats are open, an unusual vacancy rate resulting from two incumbent departures and redistricting that brought a new House district to the Hanover area.

The 28th Senate District seat of former Sen. Mike Waugh is open, held temporarily by CAP candidate Sen. Scott Wagner, who won a March special election and would like to take the job for a full term. His Republican challenger is Windsor Township resident Zack Hearn.

After an unsuccessful bid in the 28th Senate special election, state Rep. Ron Miller, R-Jacobus, declined to seek re-election to his current post, so the 93rd House District seat is also open. CAP and tea party candidate Ernie Merisotis is opposing Dallastown Area school board member Kristin Phillips-Hill in that race.

And in the 169th House District, brought to York from Philadelphia because of new boundaries, four GOP candidates compete. They are Leroy Wentz, Kate Klunk, CAP candidate Marc Woerner, and Gene Montanarelli. Tuesday's primary is the first countywide election to use the new redistricting maps.

Incumbent Majority Whip Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township, faces a primary challenge from Kelly Henshaw of Red Lion; state Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, will square off against tea party challenger Beth Roberts.

If any woman wins her bid, she'll be the first female to serve York County in the House since now-Department of Public Welfare Secretary Bev Mackereth left her seat in 2008.

Voter turnout in the 2010 primary, the last gubernatorial primary, was about 28 percent, Suchanic said.

But she said she's expecting turnout to be higher this year because of Wolf's campaign and the number of open seats.

— Reach Christina Kauffman at ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.