Pittsburgh elects a new mayor, a pair of amendments are approved to limit the governor’s power during a disaster declaration, plus criminal justice reform advocates score big victories across the commonwealth. All of that and more are in this week’s Ups and Downs.
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Ed Gainey. A historic victory. The Allegheny County state Rep defeated incumbent Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, in what was viewed as an upset win in the four candidate Pittsburgh Democratic Party mayoral primary. Gainey makes history as he likely becomes the first Black mayor in Pittsburgh’s history.
Tom Wolf. Pennsylvania voters approved a pair of amendments to the state’s constitution that limit the governor’s power during a disaster declaration. According to unofficial returns from the Department of State, just over 52% voted “yes” to ballot questions 1 and 2 on the primary ballot, while nearly 48% voted “no.” Pennsylvania Republicans and conservative groups like Americans for Prosperity led the push to promote voters to support both proposed constitutional amendments, while Gov. Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania Democrats urged voters to vote “no” on both ballot questions. Spotlight PA said that the passage of both proposed amendments is “widely seen as a referendum on the Wolf administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.”
Criminal Justice Reform Advocates. Criminal justice advocates secured big victories in the two closest watched races in the two biggest cities in the commonwealth. Starting in Pennsylvania’s largest city, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner cruised to a comfortable victory over primary challenger Carlos Vega. During his victory speech, the progressive prosecutor said “we in this movement for criminal justice reform just won a big one.” State Rep. Ed Gainey’s victory over Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto was also celebrated by criminal justice reform advocates. Voters in the state also overwhelmingly passed a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution to “outlaw discrimination based on race and ethnicity, according to the AP. The Washington Post’s David Weigel even noted the big victories for the criminal justice reform movement in Pennsylvania in his column this week.
NEPA Republicans. Out of the four special elections for the state legislature on Tuesday, Republicans had their sights set on flipping the state Senate’s 22nd District in Northeast PA, but didn’t exactly come close. State Rep. Marty Flynn (D-Lackawanna) notched a double digit victory over Lackawanna County GOP Commissioner Chris Chermak in the special election, while a Green Party candidate tallied just shy of 10% of the vote. Although Republicans have made gains in Northeast PA in recent years, they struck out on flipping this seat.
Wanda Williams. The Harrisburg City Council President narrowly edged out incumbent Mayor Eric Papenfuse and three other challengers in the Democratic Party primary for Harrisburg Mayor. If Williams wins in November’s election, she will become Harrisburg’s second Black and second female mayor.
Kevin Brobson. The matchup for the PA Supreme Court is set. Commonwealth Court Judge Kevin Brobson, who was endorsed by the Pennsylvania Republican Party, bested two other candidates for the GOP nomination for the PA Supreme Court. In addition to being backed by the state party, Brobson was also endorsed by the ChamberPAC, the political arm of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, PMA PAC, the affiliated political action committee of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, and the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Editorial Board.
Tyler Titus. Titus won by a razor thin margin, but is one step closer to making history. Titus, the Erie School Board President, won the Democratic Party nomination for Erie County Executive by 141 votes. If Titus is elected in the fall, Titus will become the first openly transgender county executive in the nation.
Inky and P-G Editorial Boards. Both paper’s editorial boards backed the biggest winners in each city during the primary, plus the contested GOP nomination for the Supreme Court. While the Philadelphia Democratic City Committee didn’t endorse a candidate in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s race, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Editorial Board backed District Attorney Larry Krasner’s reelection bid. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Editorial Board endorsed state Rep. Ed Gainey’s successful primary challenge to incumbent Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. In the three candidate primary for the GOP nomination for the Supreme Court, the Philadelphia Inquirer endorsed Commonwealth Court Judge Kevin Brobson, who notched just over 50% of the vote and will face Superior Court Judge Maria McLaughlin, a Democrat, in November’s general election.
Tarah Toohil. This Luzerne County GOP state rep is one step closer to serving as a judge on the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas. The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader reports that Toohil will likely be one of the two Republicans on the ballot this fall vying for one of the two vacancies on the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas.
Paige Cognetti. On her way to serving a full-term. Scranton Mayor Paige Cognetti cruised to a comfortable victory in the Democratic Party primary over Scranton City Controller John Murray.
Milt Warrell. This Bucks County Democrat will not be awarded a second term. Mark Lomax, a Warrington Township supervisor who was backed by the local Democratic party, bested incumbent Sheriff Milt Warrell in the Democratic Party primary for Bucks County sheriff by a comfortable margin. Lomax will face Republican Fred Harran in November’s election.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
.@billpeduto might have lost the 2021 Pittsburgh mayor’s race, but he will never lose his dedication to posting. He honors the posters’ code, and he is posting his way through it. Legendary pic.twitter.com/75YWRylUu9
— Ryan Deto (@RyanDeto) May 19, 2021