Hundreds of people might not know how to spell his name, but they wanted Bernie Cantorna to be their district attorney.
The Centre County elections office has confirmed that Judge Katie Oliver has declared the State College lawyer the winner of 606 additional Republican write-in votes for district attorney.
“We did not receive the court order yet, but our director was there. It is true,” an employee said Thursday.
Cantorna had already been noted as the winner on the Democratic ballot where he faced off with incumbent Stacy Parks Miller. He won that vote by a 39 percentage point margin, with 7,156 votes to Parks Miller’s 3,135.
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There were no candidates on the Republican side, which became a battle of write-in votes, where Parks Miller could have staged a second challenge in the fall, as a huge number of ballots weighed in on the race. There were ultimately 4,568 write-in votes to count.
Elections officials said final numbers might wait until up to June 13 to be certified.
Oliver’s order means the county accepts votes that spelled Cantorna’s name incorrectly, adding to more than 3,000 already counted.
“We think this brings us up to about 80 percent of the Republican vote,” Cantorna said.
Parks Miller could not be immediately be reached for comment.
The decision follows Parks Miller’s attorney, Bruce Castor, citing her primary loss in an argument in front of a federal court panel over a defamation case dismissed by U.S. Judge Matthew Brann against a long list of defendants, including the county and Cantorna. Parks Miller has maintained the controversy surrounding her during the past two years has been politically motivated.
“The citizens of Centre County have my pledge that my district attorney’s office will not play politics — ever,” Cantorna said in a release Thursday.
The election will still proceed in November with Cantorna having no major party challenger, although more write-in votes are always a possibility.
Cantorna says he will still do campaign events over the summer leading up to that election, meeting with stakeholders and others.
“This is going to give me the opportunity to work toward a transition that works for the county. That’s my number one goal,” he said.
Parks Miller said via email the ruling was not a surprise, calling the primary “a banner day for the criminals of Centre County and their lawyers.”
“His false accusations against me, and the two-year constant refrain of those who happily joined him, fearing a tough DA’s office, carried the day. Now the chief law enforcement officer for our county, will (hopefully) be learning on the job come January,” she wrote.