Pennsylvania State House 36th District: A guide to the 2022 primary election and candidates

What’s at stake: Democrats have a two-to-one advantage in this district, which includes some southeastern neighborhoods of Pittsburgh as well as the working-class municipalities of Mt. Oliver and Brentwood. But the 36th was long led by Harry Readshaw, one of the region’s more conservative Democrats before his retirement in 2020. Jessica Benham essentially won the race to replace him in a four-way Democratic primary, and she seeks to hold the seat for a second term.

Note: Campaign finance fundraising totals include contributions raised in 2021 and 2022. Data updated 4/18/22.

Democrats

Jessica Benham

Benham for PA campaign photo

Jessica Benham

Benham, of the city’s South Side Slopes, is one of the young female legislators who’ve been elected from Allegheny County in the past few election cycles. After working as an advocate for people with autism, she was elected as the first openly autistic member of the legislature and its first openly bisexual woman. But she has also trod a careful path on energy issues, expressing concerns about efforts to limit fossil fuels even as she has voted to support environmental initiatives.

Party: Democrat
experience:
Pennsylvania House of Representatives – 36th District (2021 – present)
Education: Bethel University (BA); Minnesota State University (MA); University of Pittsburgh (MA)
Left: site | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Candidate Surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: Not yet announced
Fundraising Total: $32,619
Cash on hand: $25,259
Worth reading: “Former Brentwood councilor to challenge Benham in 36th House district” (Chris Potter, WESA)
“Irwin, Deluzio win Democratic endorsements amid questions about committee’s openness” (Chris Potter, WESA)

Stephanie Fox

Stephanie Fox

Courtesy the Fox campaign

Stephanie Fox

A former Brentwood borough councilor who ran an abortive campaign for Congress earlier in the election cycle, Fox works as an advocate for crime victims. While she is less conservative than Readshaw on issues including abortion and guns, she said that like him, she would focus on the district’s infrastructure needs. Fox won the endorsement of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee, whose snub of Benham in 2020 didn’t prevent her from winning the office.

Party: Democrat
experience:
Brentwood Borough Council (2011 – 2018)
Education: Harvard Business School (Sustainable Business Strategies Certificate)
Left: site | Facebook | Twitter
Candidate Surveys: League of Women Voters
Major endorsements: 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club; Allegheny County Democratic Committee
Fundraising Total: Not yet announced.
Worth reading: “Former Brentwood councilor to challenge Benham in 36th House district” (Chris Potter, WESA)
“Irwin, Deluzio win Democratic endorsements amid questions about committee’s openness” (Chris Potter, WESA)

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