State Sen. John Wozniak has won re-election in the 35th state Senate District in a narrow victory over newcomer Tim Houser, which featured a battle between two Cambria County candidates for a district that includes a small snippet of Centre County.
According to the unofficial results, the incumbent Wozniak won by more than 2,000 votes, 45,156 to 43,069.
Wozniak, a Democrat from the Johnstown suburb of Westmont, is a 16-year incumbent in the state Senate. Houser, a Republican, is a long-time funeral home director from Ebensburg.
“I just want to go back to work,” Wozniak said late Tuesday, after he spent he spent the evening keeping an eye on a close race he led throughout as the precincts across the five counties were returned.
The district consists of all of Cambria and Clinton counties and parts of Centre, Clearfield and Somerset counties.
Almost 65 percent of the votes cast in the race, or more than 57,000, came from Cambria County, according to unofficial results. By contrast, only 3 percent —2,644 — came from Centre County voters in precincts in Philipsburg and Rush Township.
“Democracy is a wonderful thing even when you lose sometimes. It’s been a marvelous experience,” Houser said Tuesday night.
“Hopefully my run, since I’m an absolute no-name at this, inspires some young person, a business person ... to at least give it a try,” Houser said.
Wozniak said the polls showed a close race, but he scorned the deep pockets of Republican backers for putting “politics in front of friendship.”
“This entire campaign was driven by the power brokers in Harrisburg,” he said.
Wozniak said he will make diversifying the economy of his five-county district a priority, and he said lawmakers need to take “a serious look at re-evaluating the public education funding formula.” That could mean stretching the tax burden over a larger area, such as countywide instead of by school district.
Cambria County, Wozniak’s home county, has many small school districts that have seen decreasing enrollment over the years.
Wozniak said he has been a supporter of consolidating smaller school districts, but he said that battle would have to come from the state.
Houser said he did not think he would seek election again.
“I’m very happy as my role as the town funeral director,” he said.