1988 United States Senate election in Pennsylvania


1988 United States Senate election in Pennsylvania

← 1982 November 8, 1988 1991 (special) →
  John Heinz.jpg No image.svg
Nominee John Heinz Joseph Vignola
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 2,901,715 1,416,764
Percentage 66.5% 32.5%

Pennsylvania Senatorial Election Results by County, 1988.svg
County Results

Heinz:      50-60%      60-70%      70-80%      80-90%

Vignola:      70–80%

U.S. senator before election

John Heinz

Elected U.S. Senator

John Heinz

The 1988 United States Senate election in Pennsylvania was held on November 8, 1988. Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator John Heinz successfully sought re-election to another term, defeating Democratic nominee Joe Vignola.

Major candidates




Joe Vignola was not expected by Democratic Party leaders to have a substantial chance at defeating the popular incumbent John Heinz, even predicting that Vignola would become "Heinz's 58th variety,"[1] referring to an advertising slogan of the H. J. Heinz Company. Heinz, knowing this, ran a low-profile re-election campaign and was safely ahead in polling. Vignola traveled across Pennsylvania promoting an increase in domestic spending, including education and healthcare, while decreasing the defense budget to compensate. Vignola ran a positive campaign, in contrast with Cyril Wecht six years previously, although many Democratic ward leaders and committee members had given up on the campaign and had stopped campaigning for Vignola.[1]

Heinz easily defeated Vignola to win the election and another term in the Senate, carrying every Pennsylvania county except Philadelphia, Vignola's home town, and by a comfortable 1.49 million vote margin. Heinz performed well in suburban areas, as well as the central, southwestern and northeastern portions of the state. Outside of Philadelphia, Vignola's best county-wide showing was in Mercer County, where he won 36% of the vote, and his poorest county-wide performance was in Snyder County, where he won 12% of the vote. Although Heinz's landslide victory was largely expected among Democratic leaders, Heinz won by a wide margin despite the Democrats' 551,000-voter registration advantage statewide.[1]

Heinz died in an airplane crash on April 4, 1991, in Lower Merion Township, Pennsylvania.[2] Democrat Harris Wofford was appointed on May 8 to fill the vacancy caused by Heinz's death, and subsequently won a special election in November 1991. In the 1994 election, however, Wofford was defeated by Republican Rick Santorum.[3][4]


General election results[5]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican H. John Heinz III (Incumbent) 2,901,715 66.45% +7.17%
Democratic Joseph Vignola 1,416,764 32.45% -6.75%
Consumer Darcy Richardson 25,273 0.58% +0.12%
Libertarian Henry E. Haller II 11,822 0.27% -0.26%
Populist Samuel Cross 6,455 0.15% +0.15%
New Alliance Sam Blancato 4,569 0.11% +0.11%
Majority 1,484,951 34.00% +13.92%
Totals 4,366,598 100.00%

See also


  1. ^ a b c Kennedy, John J. (2006). Pennsylvania elections : statewide contests from 1950-2004. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America. pp. 67–68. ISBN 0761832793.
  2. ^ "HEINZ, Henry John, III, (1938 - 1991)". Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  3. ^ "WOFFORD, Harris, (1926 - )". Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  4. ^ "SANTORUM, Richard John (Rick), (1958 - )". Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  5. ^ "Statistics of the Congressional and Presidential Election of November 8, 1988" (PDF). Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House. Retrieved July 9, 2014.