Editor’s note: “The Money to Run” looks at contributions to the election campaigns of local politicians, state and federal. The series was reported by Penn State journalism students using public campaign finance reports archived on the websites of the Federal Election Commission, FollowTheMoney.org and OpenSecrets.org.
State Rep. Rich Irvin is seeking re-election for the first time in his 81st District, and he says he’s starting out with several thousand dollars left over from his previous campaign.
Irvin raised slightly more than $70,000 during the 2014 election, according to FollowTheMoney.org. The 81st District encompasses all of Huntingdon County and parts of Centre and Mifflin counties.
Irvin beat incumbent Mike Fleck as a write-in candidate in the Republican primary and defeated him again in the general election with Fleck running as a Democrat.
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During the 2014 campaign, Irvin limited contributions to those from people in his district, he said. He explained in a phone interview that he made that pledge because he wanted to best represent the people in his district and show his dedication to his constituents.
Donations in 2014 included $6,600 from Jack Reihart, one of the operators of N.E. Reihart and Sons Inc., a steel fabricator and machine shop in Huntingdon. Michael and H. Thomas Zinobile, owners of J. Zinobile Lumber of Neelyton, gave the campaign $4,150.
“I look for organizations that are supporting Pennsylvania becoming a more job-friendly state,” said Irvin, R-Spruce Creek Township.
He received 213 individual contributions totaling $54,621 in 2014. One retiree, William W. Giles, of Orbisonia, donated $10,000, according to FollowTheMoney.org, a nonpartisan, nonprofit site run by the National Institute on Money in State Politics that aggregates public campaign finance data.
The Republican Party committees gave Irvin $2,400, and he received nearly $13,000 in non-itemized contributions.
Irvin said he is using the leftover money from 2014 for fundraising this time around. He said he still has most of his campaign signs but will need to spend money on advertising and mailings.
Irvin’s main fundraisers are dinners. He has had three — on March 3, 17 and 31 — with a fourth set for April 23, according to the Re-elect Rich Irvin Facebook page. Irvin said he makes it a goal to speak with as many people as possible at his fundraisers.
His four committee assignments in the legislature are Aging and Older Adult Services, Labor and Industry, Local Government and State Government.
This year, Irvin will face opposition within his party in the April 26 primary. Mary Ann Buckley, a business teacher at Huntingdon Area High School, is also a contender for the Republican nomination. The winner will face Richard “Rick” Rogers, of Huntingdon County, in the November general election.
Buckley’s and Rogers’ campaigns did not respond to multiple emailed requests for interviews.
Maria Canales is a Penn State journalism student.