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Republican incumbent House member gets challenger in Greene and Washington counties

Election Day preview for 50th House District in Pennsylvania
Election Day preview for 50th House District in Pennsylvania 02:32

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Five Pittsburgh-area state representatives are being challenged in their party primaries next Tuesday.

In his ongoing series on contested primary battles, KDKA-TV political editor Jon Delano takes a closer look at one race that involves two Republicans.

For decades, the 50th House District, based in Greene County, was represented by former House Speaker Bill Deweese and then former Greene County Commissioner Pam Snyder, both Democrats. But when redistricted in 2020, the seat turned Republican, electing Bud Cook of Washington County.

"I believe that I'm the first Republican in 100 years to serve in that position," Cook said. 

The district includes all of Greene County and 24 municipalities in Washington County. This year, Cook is being challenged by Greene County Republican Stephanie Waggett of Carmichaels, a nurse and former power plant administrator who worries about the future of this region.

"My fear is that it is going to spiral downward unless we get someone in there who is really willing to work hard for us, be a voice for us and work to improve Greene and Washington counties," Waggett said. 

Waggett said Cook is not responsive to local officials. 

"A lot of the people I've talked to feel like they've not been heard or just not getting a good response back," Waggett said. "I believe these people have great information, and their needs are not being met."

Cook, who is one of only three local Republican House members being challenged in the primary, says he's being opposed because he's an outsider.

"It's about the politically connected versus the outsider," Cook said. 

Cook sees himself as an outsider to the politically connected Republicans who have opposed him in the past and many, he says, have endorsed his opponent.

"Their motivation from my perspective is their power, their control, and their personal gain," Cook said. "And when you put that ahead of the people, you're always going to have problems."

For her part, Waggett says that while Greene County deserves representation in the State House, she will represent everyone in the district, which is what Cook says he is already doing.

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