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May 28, 2006

LaGrotta gives in to Gibbons

The race is over for state Rep. Frank LaGrotta.

At a press conference yesterday in his Ellwood City office, LaGrotta said he would not challenge the results of the May 16 primary that saw him lose the Democratic nomination to Jaret Gibbons.

The 20-year veteran said that after consulting with legal counsel and House Democratic Whip Mike Veon, he decided that waging a challenge would only prolong “the inevitable result.” He added that there was no indication that there were any discrepancies to warrant a recount.

LaGrotta said the return boards from all three counties in the 10th District have completed their audits of the primary, and the results showed him losing by 27 votes.

“I won a lot of races and never lost,” he said. “It’s very humbling.

“This is very difficult for me.”

He said he will support Gibbons in the fall campaign as well as every Democratic candidate. Gibbons will face Republican nominee Chuck Morse of Slippery Rock, Butler County, who was unopposed in the primary.

Gibbons, 25, said last night, “I again thank him for a hard fought, clean campaign and 20 years of strong service to his district.”

He said he looks forward to working with LaGrotta “and the rest of the district as we try to make changes in our state.”

Although the district, which includes parts of Lawrence, Beaver and Butler counties, has more Democrats, LaGrotta said he believes Gibbons will have a tough contest with Morse.

He noted that in the 2004 general election President Bush, Sen. Rick Santorum and U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart, all Republicans, carried the district.

“This will be a very, very, very contestable race.”

LaGrotta said he believes Democrats have a good chance to take control of the House this year. Republicans outnumber Democrats in the House 107 to 94. LaGrotta, 47, said he has no plans at present to seek public office in the future.

He said that until his term expires Nov. 30, “my staff and I will continue to do what we have done for 20 years — help people.”

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