Pennsylvania Primary Election Round-Up

Member Group : Center Square

(The Center Square) — Democratic state officials, both current and former, sailed to victory in contested primaries across the state.

Republicans, likewise, held the 108th state House district despite hope from Democrats to widen their narrow one-seat majority in the lower chamber.

Meanwhile, the stage has been set for a November showdown for the open state Supreme Court seat.


Democrats retained a slim House majority Tuesday night after Heather Boyd defeated Katie Ford in a special election in Delaware County. Boyd replaces state Rep. Mike Zabel, who resigned earlier this year after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced.

Further east, Republican Michael Stender triumphed over Democrat Trevor Finn to fill the seat vacated by Linda Schlegel Culver after she won her own special election in January. Culver replaced longtime Republican Sen. John Gordner, who stepped down last year to serve as counsel to the Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward, R-Greensburg.

Democrat Dan McCaffery and Republican Carolyn Carluccio will also face off in November to secure a coveted seat on state Supreme Court.

The eventual victor will join a 4-2 Democratic-controlled court at a time when decisions regarding abortion access, election security, and gun rights will be forthcoming.


Cherelle Parker has won the Philadelphia Democratic primary for mayor, setting her up to become the 100th mayor of the 6th-largest city in America.

In Philadelphia, where Democratic voters overwhelmingly outnumber Republicans, the Democratic primary has become the de facto mayoral election.

Parker, a former city councilwoman and state representative, will become the first woman to lead the city. A “consummate insider, Parker rode to victory on the support of the city’s black political establishment, and was “practically raised by it.”

Parker defeated former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, a technocratic reformer, and former City Councilwoman Helen Gym, a progressive, with former City Councilman Alan Domb finishing a distant fourth.

Voters cast 217,086 ballots, a 21% turnout. More than 160,000 ballots were cast at the polls, while 56,000 ballots were cast by mail.

During the campaign, Parker emphasized public safety, education, greening Philadelphia, and creating economic opportunity. She called for filling police officer vacancies and hiring more officers, along with more funding to improve the city’s forensics lab to solve cases.

“Philadelphia’s sense of lawlessness and despair has reached an acuity unrivaled in memory,” Charles McElwee of Real Clear Pennsylvania wrote. “An overwhelming majority of Philadelphians are pessimistic about their city’s future, with 89% rating crime as the top priority for the mayor and elected officials.”

The primary was widely seen as a test of the city’s “rising progressive machine.” A win for Helen Gym would “portend the most dramatic political shift at City Hall since 1951, when Democratic mayoral candidate Joseph Clark vanquished a decades-long GOP machine.”

Instead of a dramatic political shift, however, the primary reaffirmed Philadelphia’s Democratic voters’ faith in the political status quo. Current Mayor Jim Kenney announced that he voted for Parker, though he demurred on calling it an endorsement.

Parker will face Republican David Oh, a former city councilman, in the general election in November.


Rep. Sarah Innamorato won the Democratic primary for Allegheny County Executive amid her third term in the state House. Despite a crowded field and a fundraising disadvantage, Innamorato clinched the nomination with a slew of high-profile supporters behind her.

U.S. Rep. Summer Lee, Gov. Josh Shapiro, Lt. Gov. Austin Davis, and Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey all endorsed Innamorato earlier this year. She and other progressive Democrats rode a blue wave to victory for multiple local offices.

“The future of Western Pennsylvania is bright, and I’m looking forward to working alongside you to get things done and lift up the good people of Allegheny County,” Shapiro tweeted from his campaign account Tuesday.

Staff Reporter

Anthony Hennen is a reporter for The Center Square. Previously, he worked for Philadelphia Weekly and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. He is managing editor of Expatalachians, a journalism project focused on the Appalachian region.