A candidate for the state House was shot in the neck and found dead Tuesday — primary election day, authorities said.

Sam Kovolenko (search), 46, was found by his wife Tuesday afternoon in the bedroom of his home in Ambridge, said Beaver County Coroner Wayne Tatalovich. He died from an apparent gunshot wound to the neck. No further details were immediately available.

Kovolenko, the director of central services for the county, was among five Democrats vying for the nomination in Tuesday's primary to replace retiring Democratic state Rep. Susan Laughlin (search). Laughlin has represented the state's 16th District since 1988.

County officials and people who worked with Kovolenko were shocked by his death.

"Everybody here in the courthouse was in utter disbelief," Dan Donatella, chairman of the Beaver County Board of Commissioners (search), told Pittsburgh's WPXI-TV. "I just talked to Sam the other day, he seemed to be in good spirits. We were looking forward to the campaign and everybody here is asking, 'Why?"'