CENTER VALLEY – Political newcomer Justin Simmons defeated Mike Horton 57%-43% in Tuesday’s 131st Legislative District elections. The Upper Saucon native will replace current State Representative Karen Beyer as the district’s next state representative on January 18, 2011.
At a victory party held at DeSales University Tuesday night, Simmons said to “take on an incumbent and an entire political machine and come out victorious” as a 24-year old represented “why our country is so great.” He said “knocking on 18,000 doors” during his campaign was a tremendous privilege.
Simmons, who defeated Beyer in the Republican primary last May, called Beyer’s actions leading up to the general election “embarrassing and disgraceful” to the Republican Party. He went on to ask that she change her affiliation to the Democratic Party “because that’s where she belongs.”
Former Lehigh County Commissioner Joe Maher said he had been impressed by Simmons in January, and liked him as an alternative to Beyer. “I always felt he was going to win,” Maher said, adding that Simmons “brought young voters out” in the same way President Barack Obama had.
The Horton campaign held its election night gathering at Louie’s Restaurant in Allentown. After polls closed at 8 p.m., the Horton faithful watched as WFMZ began broadcasting local election returns. Horton and Simmons were running neck-and-neck at 9 p.m. with 45 percent of the votes counted. But by 9:30 p.m., Simmons had begun to pull away. At night’s end, Simmons had received 10,701 votes to Horton’s 8,155.
Incumbent State Senator Bob Mensch won his first full term to Harrisburg on Tuesday night by defeating Easton middle school teacher Bill Wallace 60% to 40%. Mensch had served the remainder of former State Senator Rob Wonderling’s term after Wonderling left office in 2009.
Despite a cold, dark morning, voters at Calvary Bible Fellowship in Coopersburg came out early to cast their ballots. Mike Krafczyk said he came to vote for a “different kind of change than we got two years ago.” Educator Katie Filipovits said she was motivated by a desire to “give people in office a chance” to do “what’s best for public education.”