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Longtime Republican Senator Faces Challenger In Westmoreland County

WESTMORELAND COUNTY, Pa. (KDKA) -- In earlier previews of election contests, KDKA political editor Jon Delano looked at two incumbent Democratic state senators who Republicans hope to defeat.

But there's a local Republican incumbent who Democrats think is vulnerable in Westmoreland County.

"I don't consider myself a politician. Whenever anybody says that, I always say public servant. I'm a public servant, and I love doing this," says Pa. Senator Kim Ward.

Ward, a Republican, is running for her fourth term in the 39th Senatorial District, which includes most of Westmoreland County. She's a senior senator with a record, she says, "from legislation that helps blight to the child abuse task force that produced almost 30 pieces of legislation that updated our child abuse laws."

Ward faces longtime community leader Tay Waltenbaugh, who is making his first political foray.

kim ward
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

"For the last 29 years, I was the CEO of Westmoreland Community Action," said Waltenbaugh.

Now retired, the Democrat cites Westmoreland Community Action for his experience in making things happen.

"We built that agency to 26 programs, covered the entire county, offered programs from early childhood education to behavioral health – built a lot of houses, over 800 homes that we built and sold," Waltenbaugh said.

Neither candidate criticizes the other much, but Ward, a supporter of President Donald Trump, says her district has become more Republican.

"It was a 58 percent Democrat district. And today, four years later, it's about 39 percent. And that is due to the president," said Ward.

Waltenbaugh says he's always worked across party lines and says you see lots of Trump and Waltenbaugh signs next to each other.

"I've been working with both sides my whole life. That's going to continue, and I do think we have an opportunity here," Waltenbaugh said.

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