Kevin Boyle trips Perzel for Pa. House seat

Posted: November 03, 2010

HE STOCKPILED power, money and pals to become one of the city's most influential elected officials, but Republican state Rep. John Perzel couldn't hold on to his seat after being indicted on charges of misusing public dollars.

On a night of big wins for the GOP, Perzel lost his seat of 30 years to Democrat Kevin Boyle, a newcomer who hammered Perzel on the corruption charges and presented himself as a policy-savvy reformer.

"I worked hard," Perzel said last night. "I did the door-to-door. I did the district almost twice. Obviously they felt what was said and what was done, was too much to overcome. They were able to capitalize on the fact that I had this problem."

Boyle held a comfortable 8-percentage-point lead over Perzel in the state House 172nd District, which includes parts of Mayfair, Tacony, Fox Chase, Bustleton, Rhawnhurst and Lexington Park.

"I feel very good. It vindicates the campaign that we ran," Boyle said last night.

Boyle's win ran counter to the GOP surge, which claimed another prominent pol: House Majority Leader Todd Eachus of Luzerne County.

The Eachus seat was one of at least eight the Republicans took from Democrats in the House, while losing only one, according to the Associated Press.

As the vote-counting continued into this morning, the Republican Party, which already controls the Senate, appeared on its way to regaining the House majority that it lost in 2006.

Perzel was long considered unbeatable. But in December, he was charged with 82 counts of conspiracy, theft and conflict of interest as part of "Bonusgate," the scandal involving payments of state money to state workers for campaign work.

In the wake of that scandal, Boyle, 30, decided to take him on. The former staffer for City Councilman Bill Greenlee is considered an up-and-coming Democratic star. And it runs in the family - his brother Brendan Boyle was elected two years ago to represent the 170th District, also in the Northeast. He was re-elected last night.

The state Democratic Party smelled blood, too. Boyle received substantial financial backing from the state House Democratic Campaign Committee, which provided funding for Boyle's mailers and television ads.

For weeks, Perzel and Boyle have been duking it out on the streets of the horseshoe-shaped district.

Perzel, once a maitre d' at a popular neighborhood restaurant, was first elected in 1978. He became the city's most powerful Republican, as House majority leader, then speaker, before being deposed in 2007.

The charges against Perzel were brought as part of the corruption probe by Attorney General Tom Corbett, who was elected governor last night. Perzel is accused of spending $10 million of taxpayer money on employees and computer firms to develop and manage computer programs that helped run GOP political campaigns.

Perzel, whose trial is scheduled for April 4, has said he expects to be cleared of all charges.

In other city House contests, Democrats were on track to win contests for two open seats.

Pam DeLissio, a health-care consultant, won the race for the 194th District, where longtime state Rep. Kathy Manderino is stepping down after 18 years. And Michelle Brownlee, longtime aide to retiring state Rep. Frank Oliver, won the 195th District seat, which Oliver is vacating.

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