Joseph B. Scarnati

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Joseph Scarnati
Joe Scarnati.jpg
President pro tempore of the Pennsylvania Senate
Assumed office
January 2, 2007
Preceded by Robert Jubelirer
31st Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania
In office
December 3, 2008 – January 18, 2011
Governor Ed Rendell
Preceded by Catherine Baker Knoll
Succeeded by Jim Cawley
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate
from the 25th district
Assumed office
January 2, 2001
Preceded by Bill Slocum
Personal details
Born (1962-01-02) January 2, 1962 (age 59)
Brockway, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political party Republican
Children Lisa
Alma mater Pennsylvania State University, DuBois
Religion Roman Catholicism
Website Official website

Joseph B. "Joe" Scarnati (born January 2, 1962) is an American politician from the U.S. State of Pennsylvania. He is a member of the Republican Party and is currently the President pro tempore of the Pennsylvania State Senate. Scarnati is in his fourth term as Senator from the 25th District.

As President Pro Tempore, he assumed the role of Lieutenant Governor upon the death of Catherine Baker Knoll on November 12, 2008.[1] He was sworn in on December 3, 2008.[2] He did not seek election to the post in 2010, and was succeeded as Lieutenant Governor by Jim Cawley.

Early life, education, and early political career

Scarnati was born and raised in Brockway, Pennsylvania, a borough located in Jefferson County. He graduated from Penn State DuBois with a A.A. in Business Administration in 1982.

Prior to his senate election, Scarnati served on both the Brockway Borough Council (1986–1994) and the Jefferson County Development Council.

Pennsylvania Senate


In 1996, Scarnati first ran for Pennsylvania's 25th senate district when incumbent Republican State Senator John E. Peterson decided to retire in order to run for congress. Scarnati lost the Republican primary to Bill Slocum by 351 votes. Slocum won the primary with a plurality of 32% of the vote in the four candidate field.[3]

In 2000, Slocum was convicted of illegal dumping and resigned.[4] Scarnati ran for the seat as an independent against Slocum, who was attempting a comeback in the special election to replace him. Scarnati won the election with 33% of the vote, defeating Democratic nominee Joseph J. Calla (33%) and Republican nominee Bill Slocum (32%). He edged Calla by just 197 votes. After the election, he switched back to the Republican party.[5][6]

In 2004, Scarnati ran for re-election with no Democratic opposition in his first re-election campaign. He defeated Constitution Party nominee Alan R. Kiser 90%-10%.[7] In 2008, he won re-election to a third term, defeating Democrat Donald L. Hilliard 67%-33%.[8] In 2012, he won re-election to a fourth term unopposed.[9]


In May 2006, Robert Jubelirer and David Brightbill, the Republicans' two top leaders were defeated in the primary election, victims of the legislative pay raise fallout. Scarnati narrowly won the race to replace Jubelirer against veteran lawmakers Stewart Greenleaf and Jeffrey Piccola.[10]

Upon the death of Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll on November 12, 2008, Scarnati assumed the position of Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania. He served as acting Lieutenant Governor until he was sworn into office on Wednesday, December 3, 2008.[11] He did not seek election to the post in 2010, and was succeeded as Lieutenant Governor by Jim Cawley.

Scarnati played a lead role in representing Republicans during Pennsylvania's 2009 budget impasse, and harshly criticized Governor Rendell's leadership style and priorities.[12] He was seen as "the de facto opposition leader to Rendell."[13]


When Chris Abruzzo was nominated to become secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in December 2013, and came under criticism for testifying that he was unaware of evidence that global warming was harmful to the environment, Scarnati defended Abruzzo, saying "We should not be deemed unfit to serve simply because we may not agree entirely with the strongly held view of some in this chamber and elsewhere. As a matter of fact, anyone who has ventured outdoors the past few days may very well have good reason to disagree with that point of view." It had been snowing in Harrisburg, off and on, for the previous two days.[14] Scarnati was criticized for confusing weather with climate. Abruzzo was confirmed in a 42-8 vote.

Committee assignments

Ex-Officio Member of all Senate Committees

Personal life

Scarnati, 54, grew up in an Italian-American family in Brockway, Pennsylvania. He began his political career on the Brockway Borough Council in 1986. He helped run the family's restaurant and became the chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party. Scarnati resides in his hometown of Brockway with his wife Amy. They enjoy spending time outdoors, cooking, traveling, biking and spending time with their children, Lisa, Kelly, Sawyer, Coll and Michael. [15]

See also


  1. "Scarnati to be Next Lieutenant Governor". Retrieved 2010-09-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Scarnati Sworn In as Lieutenant Governor". Retrieved 2010-09-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Don Hopey, Senator gets jail time for dumping sewage, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5/10/2000
  5. GOP concedes to Gore; Santorum keeps seat, Associated Press, reprinted in USA Today. 11/8/2000
  10. Tom Barnes, GOP taps Scarnati as state senate president pro tem, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 11/29/06
  11. Levy, Marc (2008-12-03). "Scarnati sworn in as lieutenant governor". Allentown Morning Call. Retrieved 2008-12-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Scarnati tells Gov. Ed Rendell to pay state workers
  13. "PA Report 100". Pennsylvania Report. Capital Growth, Inc. January 23, 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-08-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. DEP pick confirmed in Pa., leaving lawmakers to squabble, WHYY Newsworks, Mary Wilson, 11 Dec. 2013.
  15. "Sen. Joe Scarnati assumes lieutenant governor's role". Pocono Record. November 14, 2008. Retrieved February 10, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Pennsylvania State Senate
Preceded by
Bill Slocum
Member of the Pennsylvania Senate
from the 25th district

Political offices
Preceded by
Robert Jubelirer
President pro tempore of the Pennsylvania Senate
Preceded by
Catherine Baker Knoll
Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania
Succeeded by
Jim Cawley
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Jim Cawley
as Lieutenant Governor
Pennsylvania gubernatorial line of succession
2nd in line
as President pro tempore of the Senate
Succeeded by
Sam Smith
as Speaker of the House of Representatives