Jim Rigby Wins 2018 Republican Primary for State Representative

From the Tribune Democrat:

State Rep. Bryan Barbin will be up against a familiar opponent for the 71st district this fall.

Longtime Ferndale borough official and police officer Jim Rigby topped two fellow Republican challengers, meaning he'll get a fourth shot at unseating the Westmont lawmaker.

According to unofficial Cambria and Somerset county tallies, Rigby, 58, received nearly 49 percent of the total in the three-way race.

"I'm humbled by the response," Rigby said Tuesday. "But I haven't won anything yet. All this did tonight was give me an opportunity – and I'm looking forward to getting my message out there and doing what it takes to get this great town moving forward again."

First-time candidate Justin Capouellez, 25, of Stonycreek Township, finished second with more than 35 percent of the vote, while Geistown Council President Matt Sernell trailed with more than 15 percent.

"Hopefully, I can get together with the two of them and get a plan together to win this thing," Rigby said. "My hat's off to Justin, knocking on 9,000 doors and getting that kind of showing – at 25 years old."

Capouellez campaigned with a "Reboot Johnstown" message, and said he was emboldened by Tuesday's results – even if he fell short of the GOP nomination.

"I feel like I got a grassroots following and made a splash – and I hope it gives hope to younger folks like myself who want to come back to this area and make a difference," he said.

Sernell campaigned on a 16-page strategic plan for the 71st.

Tuesday's finish was a disappointment, he said, but "if I wasn't going to get the nomination, I'm glad it's Jim. He's got a good vision for the future."

Rigby's campaign focus centered on making the Johnstown area safe again, saying more needs done to battle the opioid crisis and support those on the front lines.

"I'm hoping, if anything, that did resonate with voters, because I think they are just as frustrated as I am," he said. "Change that, and I think jobs, the economy, a lot of other things start to turn around."

Barbin was unopposed on the Democratic ticket and received approximately 97 percent of the vote.

He's served the district since 2009, and serves on the Pennsylvania state house's game and fisheries, judiciary and veterans affairs committees.

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5053. Follow him on Twitter @TDDavidHurst and Instagram @TDDavidHurst.

Matt Sernell