SCRANTON -- The Republican battle for district attorney in Lackawanna County has been a tough battle.
At the Hilton in downtown Scranton, it was a celebration as Gene Talerico managed to claim the Republican ticket in the race for the district attorney's office.
Talerico took the podium just after 10 p.m. Tuesday night after the election results showed him with a strong lead over his opponent, current District Attorney Shane Scanlon. The race was hotly contested and was expected to be closer than it turned out.
"We've always run this race as if we were 20 points down, and we felt good. We felt positive, but as much as you can predict something that's unpredictable, we didn't really know what to expect coming into Election Day," said Talerico. "I'm absolutely humbled by the results that we've seen today."
Talerico did have kind words for Scanlon, the man who once worked under him.
"He has been a dedicated public servant for Lackawanna County, and it's important that everyone understands that and everyone understands the commitment and dedication that he's had to the folks in Lackawanna County and to the district attorney's office. My hat is off to him for his work and his service," Talerico added.
Supporters of the current district attorney filled the ballroom at the Ramada near Clarks Summit.
Scanlon hoped to hold onto his seat as the head of the D.A.'s office in Scranton. He was challenged by his former boss, who once served as the first assistant district attorney for the county.
Scanlon was appointed to the post last January when Andy Jarbola left the district attorney’s job to become a county judge. Talerico resigned from the D.A.'s office after Scanlon took over. It's been a hotly contested race on the Republican ticket.
Many of the supporters at the Ramada are employees with the D.A.'s office and they said they wanted to keep their boss where he is.
"I think he's doing a great job. He's for the people. He's very trusting and thoughtful. I think he's a great D.A.," said Marianne Esgro.
"I believe in Shane. He's sincere. He's trustworthy, and he does an excellent job. His heart is in the right place. He wants to work for the people and for the families," said Rose Marie Crostti.
Scanlon's supporters say they're proud of how aggressive he has been attacking our area's growing addiction to prescription painkillers and heroin.
"That is rampant in our area and that has become such a front topic right now. I'm happy to see that someone is tackling it full speed ahead, and it is his challenge right now. I'm glad he took it on," Crostti added.
"Our race isn't looking so great," Scanlon told his supporters Tuesday night. "But we're all going to hold our heads high. We're going to see what tomorrow holds, and we're going to work tomorrow and we're going to protect the citizens of Lackawanna County."
As Talerico heads on to the general election in November, he says he goes with confidence that his experience in the district attorney's office will get him the top spot.
Talerico will move on to face Democrat Mark Powell in November. Powell was unopposed for the Democratic nomination for district attorney. Powell, an attorney from Scranton, was with other county Democrats in Dunmore.
"I'm excited about November. The reality is the district attorney's office is divided and needs new leadership. I'm the only candidate who can take a fresh look and enact needed change," Powell said.