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Rep. Abigail Salisbury challenged by progressive Democrat Ashley Comans in 34th House District

Rep. Abigail Salisbury challenged by progressive wing of Democratic Party in 34th House District
Rep. Abigail Salisbury challenged by progressive wing of Democratic Party in 34th House District 02:27

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Five state representatives are being challenged by members of their party in next Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary.

In his ongoing series on contested primary elections, KDKA political editor Jon Delano takes a close look at one of the more hotly contested battles.

In 2022, Summer Lee ran for Congress and state House at the same time. She won both and resigned her state House seat, leading to a special election. Swissvale Councilwoman Abigail Salisbury won that election and said she has already delivered $10 million to the district.

"We've done a lot of work with helping the local elected officials to learn how to do grant-writing, identify grant opportunities, how to work with appropriations here in the state Capitol to be able to access money for municipalities, whether that's for paving, capital improvements, any number of things," Salisbury said. 

While Salisbury is focused on services, her Democratic primary opponent — Wilkinsburg School Board Director Ashley Comans, the wife of Wilkinsburg Mayor Dontae Comans — says she's running to rekindle the progressive momentum begun by Lee.

"This particular district has been the catalyst for a lot of the changes that we've been seeing in Allegheny County and really building power to excite voters," Comans said.

Both Salisbury and Comans call themselves progressives, but Comans has been endorsed by Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey and Lee.

"I will work tirelessly to be a champion and fighter for the needs that we have," Comans said. "And I will also work diligently with our three progressive champions that our community has overwhelmingly supported over the past several years so that we can really bring this vision that we share across this district."

Salisbury says her focus is the 34th District, which includes 12 municipalities and parts of Pittsburgh. She added that while Comans may have Gainey's support, she has the support of eight local mayors in her district.

"There was a question at the 14th Ward Independent Democratic Committee meeting where my opponent was asked how she would have voted differently from me," Salisbury said. "And she was unable to identify any vote that I have taken in the past 13 months that she would have voted differently on."

No Republican has filed for this seat.

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