The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

March 9, 2009

Luksik to oppose Specter

Westmont woman plans run for GOP nod in 2010

After a nine-year absence from politics, Westmont resident Peg Luksik made a few waves by managing Republican William Russell’s surprisingly strong 2008 congressional campaign.

Her next venture, though, is likely to make a much bigger splash.

The mother of six and former gubernatorial candidate expects to formally announce a run against five-term Republican U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter later this month.

While the senate seat will not be on the ballot until 2010, Luksik already has formed a political committee and has begun raising campaign cash to contest Specter in the GOP primary.

“It takes a long time to raise that kind of money when you’re not a Washington insider,” she said Monday.

Luksik, 53, practices statewide politics with a grass-roots flair.

The staunch conservative and anti-abortion advocate first made a run for governor as a Republican in 1990, angering party leaders by challenging endorsed candidate Barbara Hafer.

A state GOP leader at the time dismissed Luksik’s candidacy as “doomed from the start.”

But Luksik, running a shoestring operation from her home, nearly pulled off an upset and won about 45 percent of the vote in that year’s primary.

She ran again in 1994 and 1998 as a Constitutional Party candidate, finishing third each time. But she gained a combined 776,030 votes in those elections.

Luksik has not abandoned her core message from those campaigns: She argues that politicians have “lost touch” with ordinary people.

“I feel like it’s time that the families of Pennsylvania have a voice,” she said.

“Family” is a key word for Luksik. She founded and formerly was executive director of Mom’s House, which provides day care for children of single parents.

And she says that her children were the main reason she left politics after the 1998 gubernatorial run.

“For the past 10 years, I’ve had four teenagers at a time,” Luksik said.

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