WILLIAMSPORT -- He's tried to enter the General Assembly through the state House, but now Dave Huffman is knocking on a bigger door. The Williamsport man has announced that he's seeking the Republican nomination for state Senate.
Huffman is challenging state Sen. Gene Yaw, a Republican from Williamsport, for the 23rd Senatorial District seat he won in 2008. The district now contains part of Union County but will get the whole county once redistricting takes effect in 2013.
And Huffman, in his third term as a county-elected Republican state committeeman, has come out swinging. In his announcement, Huffman called Yaw a "Republican in name only." He challenged Yaw to a January public forum and said he hoped to hear from Yaw soon.
Yaw, who Wednesday declared his intention to seek re-election, wasn't biting.
"That is such a fake and disingenuous comment," he said. "Yes, I read what he said. The petitions aren't even filed yet, and (Huffman) is not an official candidate until Feb. 14."
"I'm not sure where his support is, because from all the feedback I get, I have broad-based support," Yaw said.
Huffman beat former state Rep. Steven Cappelli for the Republican nod for the 83rd district seat in the state House in 2010, but lost the election to Democratic state Rep. Rick Mirabito. Huffman also lost to Mirabito in 2008.
Two elections under his belt give Huffman the name recognition and determination to run again, he said Wednesday. They also give him a better campaign strategy in "overcoming the smear tactics of the past," he said.
In his last bid for the state House, political ads claimed Huffman was accused of domestic abuse. The Williamsport Sun-Gazette reported that Mirabito ran ads including a claim that Huffman's then-wife sought a temporary restraining order in April 2001 in Jefferson County, Colo.
"I don't like to talk about it today because they were so inappropriate, vicious and nasty in regard to my divorce situation," Huffman said of the allegations.
"The problem is if something is false, once you go on the defensive, it's hard to win the battle," he said. "Once they put you on defense, it's a problem. We're going to be more proactive."
Huffman said the personal attacks ultimately were proven to be false.
Huffman served on the Williamsport school board for a term in 2008 and works in the beverage industry. He said his background is in business and education. And he said Union County will see a lot of him in the months leading up to the primary in May as he gets to know more of the district.
As for Huffman, he is "very pro natural gas, it's done so much to help our area," he said of the hot-bottom issue. But he said those in Union County who are concerned about the natural gas industry "will have my ear and anything that I can do as far as what's appropriate with the state."
"I have a strong desire to serve people," he said, "and I've had that my whole life. Union County will be an important part of that. You won't have a more dedicated state senator than Dave Huffman working around the clock and on these issues."