The trio of candidates seeking the Republican nomination in the race to fill the 50th District state Senate seat currently held by retiring Republican Sen. Bob Robbins includes two sitting state representatives. The 50th District, which had included all of Crawford and Mercer counties and parts of Butler and Lawrence counties, has been redistricted to include all of Crawford and Mercer counties and parts of Warren and Erie counties.

The primary election is May 20.

On the Democratic side, Hermitage resident Michael Muha is unopposed in his effort to obtain his party’s nod for a slot on the November ballot.

The 5th Legislative District seat currently held by state Rep. Greg Lucas, who serves constituents in parts of western Erie and Crawford counties, is being moved to eastern Pennsylvania as the result of statewide redistricting.

Although the first-term legislator feels strongly that he still has a great deal to offer by staying in the political arena, “I’m losing my seat,” Lucas told the Tribune during a recent interview. “I’m losing my job.”

What he doesn’t want to lose is the opportunity to work on issues that are important to him. “The only way to do that is to run for another seat,” he said. Although his post-redistricting home is in the 3rd Legislative District, remarkably few of his current constituents were also assigned to the 3rd, Lucas explained. The same was not true of Robbins’ 50th Senate district. “I’m going where most of my people are,” he said.

As for the not-too-distant future, “It’s going to be a rough primary,” Lucas predicted. “If history is any guide, the seat will probably go to a Republican, so the race will be won or lost in the primary.”

State Rep. Michele Brooks, who has represented constituents in southwestern Crawford County as well as portions of Lawrence and Mercer counties since winning her first race for the 17th District seat in 2006, told the Tribune during a recent interview that she opted to join the senate race because “understanding that experience makes a difference in Harrisburg. I want to make sure that we have an experienced voice in the senate so that our area is not forgotten.”

Although seniority works a bit differently in the house and the senate, “the seniority travels,” Brooks said, noting that she has consulted with Senate leadership and has been assured that her seniority in the house would make a difference when Senate newcomers are given their assignments.

Jane MacPherson was inspired to run for a seat in the state Senate by a concern that the U.S. Constitution was not being adequately protected.

“A group of us had been watching legislatively what’s been going on for the last two years — watching what happened to each one of the bills making its way through the state Legislature,” MacPherson told the Tribune.

When the group started a letter-writing campaign and didn’t get a sufficient response, it decided to make sure that somebody went to Harrisburg “who had studied the Constitution to make sure that no bills got passed into law that violated the Constitution,” she explained during a recent interview.

“I am running for state Senate to protect my children’s future,” she observed on her website,

A sales representative for a small family company, MacPherson is a resident of Hermitage.

An elected Republican precinct committeewoman who has served as precinct chairperson, MacPherson has been an active participant in Pennsylvania’s Precinct Project, a Republican grassroots effort to get citizens involved in politics locally.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is explain that we’re getting to the point where we have to start caring or we’re going to get run out of our houses by the government,” she explained.

Before being elected to the state House in 2006, Brooks, a Jamestown resident, served as vice chairman of the Mercer County Board of Commissioners and served as an executive board member of the Penn-Northwest Development Corporation. She also served as a liaison commissioner to the Mercer County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Mercer County Area Agency on Aging, Mercer County Cooperative Extension Office and Mercer County Regional Planning Commission. From 1996 to 2002, she was a member of Jamestown Borough Council.

Lucas, a resident of Edinboro, combined careers in education and private contracting, teaching drafting and design in General McLane School District, heading the construction management program on the Erie campus of the Fortis Institute, and spending 30 years as partner and project manager with Leehan-Lucas Contracting. He also has taught scuba diving, served as an instructor, coach and recruiter with the National Rifle Association and served as a Pennsylvania Game Commission hunter and trapper instructor.

In 2004, he began serving as a councilman in the Borough of Edinboro; in 2011, he became mayor of Edinboro.

Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at

you can help

With the May 20 primary election quickly approaching, the Tribune wants the public’s help as we prepare to discuss with local candidates the issues affecting Crawford County residents. Do you have an issue in mind that you want candidates running for Crawford County seats to address? Email Dan Walk at by Friday.


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