Republican Garrity unseats Torsella in Pennsylvania treasurer's race
In a contest that took nearly a week to finalize — and among several races that epitomized Pennsylvania's sharp political divide — Republican Stacy Garrity toppled incumbent Democrat Joe Torsella in the race for state treasurer.
Torsella conceded the upset loss on Tuesday.
According to the latest figures from the Pennsylvania Board of Elections, Garrity, a retired Army reserve colonel with 30 years of military experience and three deployments to Iraq, had 48.9% of the vote, to Torsella’s 47.7%.
The actual vote count as of Tuesday afternoon had Garrity in front, 3,234,775 to 3,157,541. Libertarian and Green Party candidates Joseph Soloski and Timothy Runkle, respectively, also received votes. Both Garrity and Torsella were unopposed in primaries.
Pennsylvania was a battleground state in the presidential election, with Democrat Joe Biden eventually overtaking Republican President Donald Trump. Trump, without credible evidence, is contesting the vote.
Trump endorsed Garrity.
The elections of Garrity and Dauphin County Controller Tim DeFoor as state auditor general mean the Republicans flip two of three statewide offices Democrats had held since 2012.
DeFoor edged former Philadelphia Deputy Treasurer Nina Ahmad for the seat vacated by Democrat Eugene DePasquale, who lost a congressional race to Republican and 10thDistrict incumbent Scott Perry.
Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro held off his GOP challenger, Pittsburgh lawyer Heather Heidelbaugh, to win a second term.
“As treasurer, I will focus on holding government accountable for all taxpayers and making sure the treasurer’s office works for all Pennsylvanians, regardless of party,” Garrity said in a statement. “In the Army, we lived by the most fundamental American values — honesty, integrity and selfless service — and I think Harrisburg can use some of those values.
“Joe has implemented a number of good ideas that I hope to continue and build upon,” she said of Torsella.
Garrity's campaign focused on enhanced transparency, returning $3.5 billion in unclaimed property to taxpayers and eliminating hidden fees to private money managers that accelerate the commonwealth's pensipn debt. She also wants to build out the state’s tax-deductible 529 Tuition Assistance Program to help pay for college.
She was the first Republican to win the office since 2000. This was also the first time an incumbent Democrat has lost statewide since 1994.
“Our campaign will come up just a little bit short,” Torsella said in a videotaped statement. “It’s hard to lose, and especially heartbreaking when it looks like it’s going to be such a tiny margin. But public office is a privilege, not an entitlement.”
Torsella, elected four years ago, was lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against 16 large Wall Street banks over bond fees.
The suit, which alleged price fixing of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds — government-sponsored entity instruments — between 2009 and 2016, generated a nearly $400 million settlement. Plaintiffs split the money. Torsella has also moved more of the commonwealth's investments into index funds, in a move to save millions in investment fees.
Garrity received the Bronze Star twice and received the Legion of Merit before retiring from the Army Reserve as a colonel. While in the military, she began working at a Pennsylvania manufacturing company, Global Tungsten & Powders Corp., ultimately becoming one of two female vice presidents at the company.
She earned a degree in finance and economics from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and later received a certificate from the Cornell University Business Management Institute. She and her husband, Daniel Gizzi, live in Athens, in Bradford County.