Pennsylvania gubernatorial election, 1982

Pennsylvania gubernatorial election, 1982
November 2, 1982 (1982-11-02)

Candidate Dick Thornburgh Allen Ertel
Party Republican Democratic
Running mate Bill Scranton III James Lloyd
Popular vote 1,872,784 1,772,353
Percentage 50.8% 48.15

County results

Governor before election

Dick Thornburgh

Elected Governor

Dick Thornburgh

The Pennsylvania gubernatorial election of 1982 was held on November 2, 1982 between incumbent Republican Dick Thornburgh and Democratic U.S. Congressman Allen E. Ertel.

Primary elections

Incumbent Governor Dick Thornburgh ran unopposed for the Republican nomination. Allen Ertel was the consensus Democratic choice. His opponents included Philadelphia political consultant Steve Douglas, Fayette County businessman Earl McDowell, and Northumberland County dentist Eugene Knox.

Pennsylvania gubernatorial election, 1986[1]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Allen Ertel 436,251 57.64
Democratic Steve Douglas 143,762 19.0
Democratic Earl McDowell 116,880 15.44
Democratic Eugene Knox 59,925 7.92

Major Party Candidates




Thornburgh, who maintained high approval ratings during his first term, was initially considered a shoo-in for reelection, especially after the Democrats' top candidate, Philadelphia District Attorney (and future governor) Ed Rendell, declined to seek the nomination. Ertel struggled early with fundraising and, because of his residence in heavily Republican Central Pennsylvania, lacked a base among the state's strongest Democratic constituents: urban voters and organized labor. However, as a serious recession hit the state, Ertel campaigned hard against the economic policies of President Ronald Reagan, whom Ertel blamed for failing to protect the state's manufacturing sector; Thornburgh was forced to distance himself from his party's executive, as support for Reaganomics waned.[2]

The state's political environment strongly favored Ertel not only because of national issues, but because the governmental cuts undertaken by Thornburgh during his term as governor had caused him to lose the support of severally traditionally Democratic-leaning organizations that had once stood by his side, such as the NAACP and the state's teachers' union. However, Ertel ran a relatively mediocre campaign and hurt his chances with several gaffes, such as accusing the governor of exploiting his handicapped son's condition for political gain. Ertel's own mistakes were considered to be a crucial component in Thornburgh's win.[2]


Pennsylvania gubernatorial election, 1982[3][4]
Party Candidate Running mate Votes Percentage
Republican Dick Thornburgh Bill Scranton III 1,872,784 50.84%
Democratic Allen Ertel James Lloyd 1,772,353 48.11%
Socialist Workers Mark Zola Wilson Osteen, Jr. 15,495 0.42%
Consumer Lee Frissell Judith Faulkner 13,101 0.36%
Libertarian Richard Fuerle David Walter 10,252 0.28%
Totals 3,683,985 100.00%
Voter turnout (Voting age population) 64.60%


  1. Our Campaigns - PA Governor - D Primary Race - May 20, 1986
  2. 1 2 Kennedy, John J. (2006). Pennsylvania Elections: Statewide Contests From 1950-2004. University Press of America. ISBN 9780761832799.
  3. The Pennsylvania Manual, p. 598.
  4. The Pennsylvania Manual, p. 597.


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