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Cantorna wins Democratic vote for DA in primary

District Attorney candidate Bernie Cantorna talks to supporters as the totals from the voting precincts rolled in on Tuesday. Cantorna beat incumbent Stacy Parks Miller for the Democratic nomination.
District Attorney candidate Bernie Cantorna talks to supporters as the totals from the voting precincts rolled in on Tuesday. Cantorna beat incumbent Stacy Parks Miller for the Democratic nomination. adrey@centredaily.com

Centre County could have a new district attorney.

Results from the primary election put State College lawyer Bernie Cantorna ahead of incumbent Stacy Parks Miller for the Democratic nomination.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting at 11:08 p.m., Cantorna had 7,156 or 69.42 percent of the vote to Parks Miller’s 3,135 or 30.41 percent.

“We feel good about it. It represents a lot of hard work by a lot of different people and a lot of support throughout the county,” Cantorna said around 10:30 p.m. as 73 percent of the vote was counted.

Parks Miller said she was “excited” about the feedback she received from voters at the Zion Lutheran Church in Boalsburg on Tuesday.

“I’m very happy to receive such great feedback and support from the voters today!” she told the Centre Daily Times in an email early in the day.

Despite the large split in votes, the race may not yet be decided. Only 250 write-in votes for Parks Miller are needed on the Republican ballot to possibly trigger a rematch in November. Thousands were submitted. The results of those votes will take longer to review and certify.

“Those are not even close to being counted now,” Cantorna said. “I think it would be good for the county if we had a result tonight or tomorrow. We’re hopeful for that.”

Cantorna announced his candidacy in November 2016. Parks Miller made her announcement on April 11, the same day she announced the first charges recommended by the grand jury she asked President Judge Thomas King Kistler to empanel. Those charges were against Sabine Graham, of State College, and Maria Gilligan, of Bellefonte, in connection with the February 2016 overdose death of Corinne Pena.

Parks Miller has been in the news frequently in recent weeks since the second set of recommendations from the grand jury, the charges against the Alpha Upsilon chapter of Beta Theta Pi fraternity and 18 of its members in connection with the February death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza. The case has prompted national attention, including an appearance by Parks Miller on “The Today Show” last week. But on Monday, it also prompted a harsh look at Parks Miller’s recent history by news website Slate.

The article included links to lots of media coverage of the ongoing courthouse battles pitting Parks Miller against the county and its commissioners, her former paralegal Michelle Shutt, Judge Pamela Ruest, and a list of local defense attorneys including Cantorna.

Parks Miller was accused by the attorneys of forging Ruest’s signature on a fake bail order as part of an investigation. The Office of the Attorney General presented the case to a grand jury which declined to recommend charges, believing the opinion of two handwriting experts from the same firm that the signature was Ruest’s. The grand jury did find problems with Parks Miller’s use of county employees and resources for her 2013 re-election campaign, but concluded that about $225 of campaign work had been done and decided it did not merit charges.

Parks Miller is suing those opponents for a variety of grounds, including defamation. The case was dismissed by a federal judge but Parks Miller is appealing. Arguments in that appeal are scheduled for Monday in Pittsburgh.

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce

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