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Fayette millionaire a winner in GOP race

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

By David Templeton, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Fayette County could be on the brink of a new political era with mega-millionaire Joe Hardy winning the Republican nomination for commissioner in a landslide, while two of three incumbent Democratic commissioners were defeated.

More Primary 2003

Click to visit Fayette County's election site for unofficial vote details.

Tables with primary results for Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene and Washington counties will be published in Thursday print editions of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


Hardy, the 80-year-old founder of 84 Lumber Co. based in Washington County and Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Spa near Farmington, Fayette County, defeated five other Republicans by garnering more than double the votes of his nearest competitor, securing one of the two GOP nominations.

Hardy's bid for commissioner brought questions of why the millionaire would seek to run in one of the poorest counties in the state.

But Hardy proclaimed, "This is not a sham," and ran a vigorous grass-roots campaign that spent about $170,000.

"I came in with a can-do attitude and they think I can do," Hardy said, noting he will not team up with the other Republican for the general election. "Most things start at the top. This was my hope going in, and I'm having a ball."

Angela Zimmerlink, a Redstone Republican, defeated Dave Lohr of South Connellsville and Donald M. Miller II of South Union for the second Republican nomination for commissioner.

Ken Firestone and John C. Evans were far behind.

On the Democratic side, winners of the two nominations were commission Chairman Vincent Vicites and former state Sen. J. William Lincoln.

Incumbent Sean Cavanagh, who was elected as an independent four years ago and changed his affiliation back to Democratic, and Vincent Zapotosky, an aide to former U.S. Rep. Frank Mascara, trailed Lincoln. Incumbent Ron Nehls was last, well behind the other four.

In other county races, incumbents won easily.

Democrat Nancy D. Vernon, incumbent district attorney, defeated challenger John Cupp comfortably. In the Democratic race for sheriff, incumbent Gary D. Brownfield ran far ahead of Mark Santore. No Republicans filed in either race.

For controller, incumbent Democrat Mark Roberts defeated John Toots Croftcheck. Republican John Mikita was unopposed. Incumbent Democratic Clerk of Courts Janice Snyder trounced challenger Sean Lally.

In the only other contested county race, incumbent Democrat Lance Winterhalter defeated Debra L. "Deb" Bortz in the race for prothonotary.

David Templeton can be reached at dtempleton@post-gazette.com or 724-746-8652.

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