Denlinger: ‘Challenging the status quo is a risk’

By on May 21, 2014

Outspent 8 to 1, Denlinger falls to Aument in 36th Senatorial District GOP primary.

Wolf wins Dem primary; Will face Gov. Corbett in the November general election.

In what some thought could be a tight race, Ryan Aument easily defeated Gordon Denlinger to capture the GOP primary for the 36th Senatorial District.

Aument, who is seeking the seat vacated by Sen. Mike Brubaker, won the election 10,071-6,292 in a primary battle that attracted a low turnout among of registered voters Tuesday.

Aument will face Elizabeth Township Democrat Gary Schreckengost in the general election in November for the four-year Senate seat.

Schreckengost ran unopposed Tuesday in the Democratic primary.

Gordon Denlinger hugs his wife Carolyn at campaign headquarters in Eicher Arts Center Tuesday night. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Gordon Denlinger hugs his wife Carolyn at campaign headquarters in Eicher Arts Center Tuesday night. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Aument, a 37-year-old Landisville native, said he is happy with the result of the race which got testy down the stretch.

Voters who supported him validated a belief in stronger communities through results-oriented government, Aumenr said.

“Those beliefs have now been endorsed by Republican party voters, and we will take that message to all the voters in the fall,” he said

He succeeded in areas where Denlinger was essentially unknown, including the 22 Hempfield Township districts where Aument won 2,197-456.

Aument also carried Lititz and Warwick Township districts 1,248-519.

Aument congratulated Denlinger on a hard-fought campaign, and urged both Denlinger and the people who voted for him to put their differences aside for the betterment of the people and communities of Lancaster County.

“I will not close my door to those people who want to do things differently,” Aument said. “Our differences are not as big as the goals we have in common.”

Denlinger, who lost for the second time in three months, was gracious in defeat.

“Well it would appear at this point that I’m heading back into the private sector,” Denlinger said after thanking his campaign and notifying his team that he’d call Aument at 10 p.m. to conceded.

In February, the Lancaster County Republican Committee snubbed Denlinger and voted to endorse Aument for Senate.

Like Aument, who gave up his House seat in the 41st District to run for the state Senate, Denlinger had given up his House seat in the 99th District.

With his back against the wall, Denlinger decided to challenge the local GOP and oppose Aument once again as an independent Republican.

Despite the loss, Denlinger on Tuesday said he had no regrets.

“Anytime you challenge the status quo it is a risk,” he said.

Denlinger, 50, from Narvon, said he was proud of his campaign that was “honorable at all points and positive to the end.”

“I hope this campaign inspires some people to take the system on in the future,” he said at his campaign headquarters Eicher Arts Center in Ephrata Tuesday night.

Aument and Denlinger had been allies and worked together in the House, voting in unison with all conservative Lancaster County representatives.

Both were rated 75 percent by the American Conservative Union and defined themselves as pro-life, pro-traditional marriage and pro-Second Amendment conservatives.

But Denlinger and Aument managed to differentiate themselves during the campaign.

Aument, chastised Denlinger’s acceptance of mileage reimbursements and poked at his acceptance of per diem expenses until 2009.

Meanwhile, Denlinger, who was significantly out-raised, charged Aument of running a dirty campaign. He said it was a challenge to connect with voters with “such a big population and you have limited resources.”

“That was a limiting factor, but again we gave it everything we had so I feel good about the effort,” Denlinger said.

Denlinger carried areas along his House 99th District, including winning Ephrata 445-304.

But Aument, who outspent Denlinger by about 8 to 1, exteded his home territory in the northwest section of the 36th Senate District.

In other contested races: Tom Wolf defeated three candidates for the Democratic nomination for governor.

Wolf will be joined on the general election ticket with state Sen. Mike Stack of Philadelphia who defeated five other candidates running for Lieutenant Governor.

• In the race for of Democratic State Committee, voters selected Susan Stoltzfus, Janet Spleen, Doreen K. Kreiner, Roger J. Cohen, Bruce Slater, and Tom O’Brien.

• In the Republican primary race for the 99th District House seat David H. Zimmerman of East Earl grabbed 3,040 votes. No totals were available for write-in votes cast for Ed Donnegan, a 61-year-old challenger from Narvon.

The winner of that race will face Democrat Bryan Sanguinito who won in an unopposed

• In the 37th Legislative District, incumbent Republican Mindy Fee of will meet Democrat Brian Kresge.

• In the 97th Legislative District, Manheim Township incumbent Republican Steve Mentzer will face a write-in campaign in the fall by Lititz Democrat Charlie Hample.

• In the 41st Legislative District, Republican Brett Miller of East Hempfield will take on West Hempfield Township Democrat Alice Yoder for the seat vacated by Aument.

Patrick Burns is a staff writer for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at or at 721-4455.

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