GOP slate includes challenger for 49th District

January 22, 2014
From left, Camera Bartolotta, Jason Ortitay, Washington County Republican Party Chairman William Merrell and Donald “Bud” Cook are shown after a party meeting Tuesday night at Lone Pine Country Club. - Barbara Miller / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Donald “Bud” Cook, clad in a nearly neon windbreaker, stands out in a crowd.

“You’ll be seeing a lot of this green jacket,” said Cook, 57, of Coal Center, who announced during a bitterly cold Tuesday night meeting of the Washington County Republican Committee at Lone Pine Country Club that he intends to challenge incumbent Democratic Rep. Pete Daley for the 49th District State House seat.

Cook, a 1974 graduate of California Area High School, holds a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, W.Va., where he served two, two-year terms on Buckhannon City Council.

He moved back to Washington County in 1990, retiring from publishing information for life insurance associations in 2009 and founding 1BCEP e-marketing, which stands for Bud Cook, executive professional.

“We the people need to get out of the political rut that we’re in,” Cook said. “This campaign is going to be about faith in government, our families and our futures. What we need to do is address the job opportunities in the Mon Valley. We have a great environment and a great place to raise families, but we’ve been woefully lax in creating jobs.”

Daley, 63, of California, was elected to the House seat in 1982.

Reapportionment profoundly redrew the boundaries of the district, shifting it eastward across the Monongahela River. In Washington County, communities in the 49th District include Allenport, Beallsville, Bentleyville, California, Charleroi, Coal Center, Cokeburg, Deemston, Donora, Dunlevy, Elco, Ellsworth, Fallowfield, Long Branch, Marianna, Monongahela, New Eagle, North Bethlehem, North Charleroi, Roscoe, Speers, Stockdale, Twilight, West Bethlehem, West Brownsville and West Pike Run.

Washington County Democratic Chairman George Vitteck said last week he did not know of a Democrat who was planning to run against U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-18th, whose district includes parts of Washington, Greene, Allegheny and Westmoreland counties; or incumbent Republican state Reps. John Maher, R-Upper St. Clair, whose 40th District includes Peters Township, and Rick Saccone R-Elizabeth, whose 39th District includes Nottingham, Somerset and Union townships and Finleyville.

One Democrat who is definitely not running against Murphy is Washington County Commission Chairman Larry Maggi, who was soundly defeated in his 2012 congressional bid.

“The people spoke the last time,” Maggi said Wednesday. “I respect that.”

State Rep. Jim Christiana, R-Beaver, will have his name on the ballot in Washington County for the first time this year. The courts threw out a reapportionment plan for the 2012 election that would have had him on the ballot here. The 15th Legislative District, new to Washington County, includes Amwell, Blaine, Buffalo, Claysville, Cross Creek, Donegal, East Finley, Green Hills, Hanover, Hopewell, Independence, Jefferson, Morris, South Franklin, West Finley and West Middletown. Much of this district was, in the past, part of the 49th or 46th districts.

In the redrawn 46th Legislative District, Democratic incumbent Jesse White, first elected in 2006, has a Democratic opponent in the primary in Paul Walsh of Burgettstown, who, like White, is an attorney. Readying himself for a race against the Democratic nominee is Jason Ortitay of Bridgeville, owner and president of Jason’s Cheesecake Co. LLC.

The 46th District includes Canton, Cecil, Mt. Pleasant, Robinson and Smith townships and Burgettstown and Midway boroughs in Washington County; Collier and South Fayette townships and Bridgeville, Heidelberg and Oakdale boroughs in Allegheny County, plus all of McDonald Borough, which straddles both counties.

Washington County GOP Chairman William Merrell introduced Ortitay at the gathering of Republicans, along with Camera Bartolotta of Monongahela, a businesswoman who is challenging incumbent Democrat Tim Solobay of Canonsburg in the 46th Senatorial District.

State Rep. Brandon Neuman is seeking his third two-year term in the 48th Legislative District, which includes Canonsburg, Chartiers, East Washington, Houston, North Franklin, North Strabane, South Strabane and Washington.

No GOP hopeful has yet stepped forward to challenge Neuman, Merrell said.

In the 50th Legislative District, Pam Snyder, former Greene County Commission chairman, was elected in 2012. The district includes all of Greene County and East Bethlehem Township and Centerville Borough in Washington County, plus a sliver of Fayette County.

Jim Minor, Greene County GOP chairman, was asked if there was a movement afoot to put up a challenger against Snyder. “Not yet,” he replied. Asked if Greene County Republicans feel it is a priority to field a candidate in the primary, Minor said, “I’m not real sure.”

Archie Trader, Greene County minority commissioner, was asked if he had heard of any Republicans expressing an interest to run against Snyder.

“Haven’t heard a thing,” Trader answered. “It’s been real quiet.”

Contributing to this story was Greene County Bureau Chief Jon Stevens.

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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