Pa. Primary Election: Residents cast votes for Philadelphia mayor, 2 state house seats
PHILADELPHIA - Pennsylvania held its primary election on Tuesday, where residents cast their votes in various races, including in the race for Philadelphia’s 100th mayor and a special election that will determine party control over the State House. .
Philadelphia Mayoral Race
Cherelle Parker, a Democrat with a long political history in Pennsylvania, won Philadelphia’s mayoral primary on Tuesday, likely setting her up as the city’s 100th mayor and the first woman to serve in the role.
Parker, 50, who served for 10 years as a state representative for northwest Philadelphia before her election to the city council in 2015, asserted herself as a leader whose government experience would allow her to address gaping problems with public safety and quality of life in the nation’s sixth-largest city. She will go up against Republican David Oh in the Nov. 7 general election.
The win was a disappointment to progressives who rallied around Helen Gym, who was backed by Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and New York U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Parker emerged from a crowded field of five front-runner Democratic candidates vying to replace Democrat Jim Kenney, who is term-limited. She beat out other former city council members who resigned from their seats to throw their hats in the ring; a state representative; a former city controller and a political outsider businessman.
The Philadelphia race serves as the latest barometer of how residents of some of the nation’s largest cities hope to emerge from the pandemic, which heightened concerns about crime, poverty and inequality. The results have sometimes been tumultuous in other parts of the country, leading to the defeat of the incumbent mayor of Chicago in February and the ouster of San Francisco’s district attorney last year.
Parker pledged to "stop the sense of lawlessness that is plaguing our city" by putting hundreds more officers on the street to engage in community policing. Parker pushed for officers to use every legal tool, including stopping someone when they have "just cause and reasonable suspicion."
She received support from members of the Philadelphia delegation in the House, as well as members of Congress. She was also backed by labor unions and a number of wards in the city, and Kenney said he had cast his ballot for her.
In another race Tuesday, Voters in Allegheny County, which encompasses the state’s second largest city of Pittsburgh, picked sitting state lawmaker Sara Innamorato as their Democratic nominee to face the lone Republican contender, Joseph Rockey, in the November general election. Unlike in the Philadelphia mayor’s race, the primary winner will not necessarily be the person most likely to fill the county executive’s seat.
"Allegheny County, I’m going to make one promise to you: I will build a team of leaders who will usher in the future of this region and build a more equitable and just county," she said at a campaign event Tuesday, asking supporters to enjoy the victory and recharge. "We better get ready, because we have a lot of work to do."
Our Revolution, a movement born during U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential race and now one of the largest progressive organizations in the country, had endorsed Innamorato — a win for the movement, even with its loss in the mayoral primary.
Philadelphia voters were choosing between front-runner Democratic candidates including former council members Parker, Gym, Rebecca Rhynhart, Allan Domb and Jeff Brown. They are vying to replace Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney, who is term-limited.
The candidates have pledged to tackle the city's violence and crime, and address the rampant quality-of-life issues, but how they plan to get there varies. The candidate who is able to muster their base and appeal to the widest cross-section of voters will ultimately tip the scales in a tight contest.
Voters on Tuesday will also elect seven out of more than 30 total Democratic and Republican candidates for city council-at-large seats and three contested district seats.
You can track results as they come in on the city's website by clicking here.
Delaware County Special Election
Democrats maintained their narrow Pennsylvania House majority Tuesday by winning a special election and along with it continued control over how the chamber will handle abortion, gun rights and election law legislation.
Heather Boyd won a seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives representing the Philadelphia suburbs, beating Republican Katie Ford for a vacancy created by the resignation of Democratic Rep. Mike Zabel. Zabel quit the Legislature in March, shortly after a lobbyist accused him of sexually harassing her.
Boyd’s win gives Democrats 102 seats, the minimum needed to control the agenda in the 203-member House. The state Senate has a Republican majority.
The Democrats’ victory in the Delaware County district means first-term Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro will have at least one chamber to aid his agenda going into the final month of budget negotiations. The result could also affect a proposed constitutional amendment limiting abortion rights that legislative Republicans are one House floor vote away from putting before voters as a referendum.
Boyd is a former congressional and state legislative aide. Her district was once Republican but has given solid margins to Democratic candidates in recent elections.
Republicans entered the 2022 election with a 113-90 advantage in the state House, but Democrats flipped a net of 12 seats, barely enough to claim majority status after 12 years and elect one of their own as speaker.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court
Dan McCaffery has won the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania for a vacant seat on the state Supreme Court, which is playing a prominent role in settling disputes over voting rights, abortion rights and gun rights in the presidential battleground.
McCaffery defeated Deborah Kunselman in the two-way race. Both currently sit on the state Superior Court, a statewide appellate body that handles appeals from county courts in criminal and civil cases.
McCaffery will face the winner of the Republican primary for the seat in the November general election.
Competing on the Republican ticket are Carolyn Carluccio, a Montgomery County judge, and Patricia McCullough, a judge on the Commonwealth Court, a statewide appellate court that handles cases involving government agencies or challenges to state laws.
On the campaign trail, McCullough has repeatedly boasted of being the "only judge in 2020 in the presidential election in the entire country" to order a halt to her state’s election certification.
McCullough was ruling in a Republican-backed post-election legal challenge that sought to throw out 2.5 million mail-in ballots — most cast by Democrats — and tilt victory to Donald Trump in the presidential battleground state. The state’s high court quickly overturned McCullough’s order.
McCullough, of Allegheny County, also ran for state Supreme Court in 2021 and lost in the primary. The state party is endorsing Carluccio and party allies have reported spending nearly $1 million to help her beat McCullough.
Democrats currently hold a 4-2 majority on the court, which has an open seat following the death last fall of Chief Justice Max Baer, a Democrat.
The court has handled a number of hot-button issues over the past few years.
It is currently examining a challenge to a state law that restricts the use of public funds to help women get an abortion as well as Philadelphia’s challenge to a state law that bars it and other municipalities from restricting the sale and possession of guns.
In recent years, the justices rejected a request to invalidate the state’s death penalty law and upheld the constitutionality of the state’s expansive mail-in voting law. The court also turned away challenges to the 2020 election result from Republicans who wanted to keep former President Donald Trump in power, and ruled on a variety of lawsuits over gray areas in the mail-in voting law.
In one 2020 election case, justices ordered counties to count mail-in ballots that arrived up to three days after polls closed, citing delays in mail service caused by disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ruling spurred an outcry among Republicans, who challenged the decision in the U.S. Supreme Court.
The nation’s highest court ultimately declined to take the case. The ballots — nearly 10,000 of them — were never counted in any federal race, including for president, because the election was certified while their fate remained in legal limbo. State elections officials said the votes weren’t enough to change the results of a federal election.