No matter who wins the race in November, Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District (which includes State College) will be represented by a Penn Stater in Washington. That much was assured last night as Kerith Strano Taylor defeated Thomas Tarantella 55 to 45 percent in the Democratic primary for the chance to take on third-term Congressman Glenn Thompson.
“I’m excited that we are one step closer to rebuilding the American middle class,” Strano Taylor said to the Meadville Tribune. “It’s overwhelming how many people have contributed their time, which is priceless, to help us do this thing. Their extraordinary effort showed in the results. There’s no thank-you big enough for what they’ve accomplished — and now we get into the real race.”
Strano Taylor graduated enrolled at Penn State early at age 16 and graduated with a degree in political science in 1996. She went on to earn a law degree from George Mason in 2001 and opened up a family law practice in her hometown of Brookville, where she still works. Although this is her first election on a large stage, Strano Taylor was elected and serves as the president of the Brookville Area School Board. Her platform includes initiatives like simplifying the tax code, compelling more women to run for elected positions, and reducing unemployment.
Strano Taylor has a daunting — some would say impossible — task ahead if she plans to unseat Thompson, who ran unopposed in the Republican primary yesterday. The incumbent has won all three of his elections by at least 16 points, most recently in 2012 over Penn State professor Charles Dumas by 26 points. PA-5 has been controlled by a Republican since 1973, and it would likely take an enormous budget or a candidate with Paterno-esque name recognition (although signatures are required to run, so that rules that out) to turn the district blue again.
In any case, Strano Taylor’s victory ensures Penn State’s continued dominance in Congressional representation. Thompson, a 1981 graduate, is one of eight current United States Representatives who have earned Penn State degrees. Whoever wins in November is guaranteed to represent our Alma Mater in Washington.