Comans to mount primary challenge to Pa. Rep. Salisbury – Pennsylvania Capital-Star

A school director and community advocate is joining the race for the 34th state House District, setting up a primary challenge for the seat held by state Rep. Abigail Salisbury (D-34th District). 

Ashley Comans, a Wilkinsburg school director and lifelong resident of western Pennsylvania, announced on Tuesday that she is seeking the Democratic Party nomination for the district in Allegheny County. She told the Capital-Star she wants to ensure that Democrats are using their slight majority in the Legislature to focus on communities who often feel left out. 

“So when we think about the voices that are in Harrisburg representing the people within their district, they should also be someone who has an understanding and a lived experience for the community,” Comans said. She is married to Wilkinsburg Mayor Dontae Comans.

She pointed to the Commonwealth Court decision that deemed Pennsylvania’s current funding model for public education as unconstitutional and “care infrastructure,” which she said includes paid family leave and affordable childcare, as issues that are most important to the district. 

Salisbury says she knows Comans, adding that she considers her a “nice person.” Salisbury added that she doesn’t really look at running for office in the competitive way some do.

“My philosophy of running for office is I don’t really look at it as running against other people,” Salisbury said in an interview with the Capital-Star. “You just have your platform of what you want to do, you put that out there. If people like it, they vote for you. If they like the other person’s platform, they vote for them.”

In 2021, Comans announced that she was going to run for the state House’s 24th District, which was an open seat after Ed Gainey was elected mayor of Pittsburgh. However, after redistricting changed the boundaries of the state House, Comans dropped her bid for the seat since the new maps placed her in the 34th House District, and shifted her focus to helping Summer Lee’s bid for Congress. 

Salisbury’s first attempt at public office was in 2022, while a member of Swissvale Borough Council. She launched a primary challenge to then-state Rep. Summer Lee for the 34th state House District. Lee won that race by 30 points, but in the same year was elected to Congress. 

Comans and Salisbury were among four candidates who sought the Democratic Party nomination in the special election to replace Lee in the 34th District, but the Allegheny County Democratic Committee selected Salisbury to be the nominee. She won the special election in February, cruising to a 75-point victory over Republican Robert Pagane

Comans is widely considered an ally to Lee

Salisbury’s official website lists her priorities as updating infrastructure, human rights, small business development, supporting public schools, and preserving the environment. She’s recently been a leading voice in the push to move Pennsylvania’s presidential primary from April 23, 2024 since it currently conflicts with the Jewish holiday of Passover. Salisbury, the only Jewish woman in the state House, and other supporters of moving the primary believe the current date may disenfranchise Jewish voters. 

While Salisbury said that supporters of moving the date were in Harrisburg this week in their continued effort to move the primary date away from Passover, Senate Majority Leader Joe Pittman said in a statement on Oct. 18 that the conversation on moving the 2024 primary date has “come to an end in the state Senate.”

Originally published at,by John Cole

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