The 26 year-old Republican first-time candidate pulled off an upset and defeated Democratic nominee Sarah Del Ricci in the 170th State House District special election.
With 59 of the 59 precincts reporting, Martina White received 3,536 votes (55.76%) while Sarah Del Ricci brought in 2,802 votes (44.19%). Three people, (0.05%) wrote-in another name.
She celebrated her victory at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5.
“Our campaign put doing what’s right before partisan politics,” White stated. “We focused on the issues that matter to real people. And by doing that, we emerged victorious.”
“I said from day one of this campaign that I will put partisan politics aside and work to do what’s right,” she continued. “That’s exactly what I will do in Harrisburg. We all want to live in safe neighborhoods. We all want good-paying jobs to support our families. We all want quality schools that prepare our children for a successful future. These issues aren’t partisan, and they are what I will focus on as Representative.”
“I thank Sarah Del Ricci for caring enough about Philadelphia to step forward and run,” the newly-elected State Rep. said. “I thank her supporters for the work they put into this campaign. Now I hope we can all come together because we share the same goal: a stronger, better Northeast Philadelphia and Pennsylvania.”
She concluded by thanking supporters for giving their “time and treasure in this campaign. I know that I would not be standing here this evening without the support you provided.”
Speaker Turzai scheduled this election on a day other than the Philly Mayoral Primary in the hopes of pulling off such an upset. Still, despite that fact and a Democratic Party split (more on that soon), this was still an impressive victory for White.
Of course, any Republican win in Philadelphia is amazing in itself as White will be just the second GOP State Rep. to emerge from the state’s most populous city.
Last weekend, the GOP candidate stated in an interview that she had personally knocked on over 5,000 doors in the Northeast Philadelphia district. Apparently that hard work paid off.
Lt. Governor Mike Stack, the local ward leader, favored John Del Ricci for the nomination. Meanwhile, the seat’s prior occupant and now Congressman Brendan Boyle (as well as his brother State Rep. Kevin Boyle) wanted their top staffer Seth Kaplan to get the party’s support.
White took advantage of this divide and was able to secure an extraordinary amount of labor support for a Republican candidacy. She also scored the backing of Sam Katz and former State Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille.
Del Ricci received her own endorsements, including campaign appearances from former Gov. Ed Rendell and of course Lt. Governor Stack. Stack even called voters this morning alongside the candidate at campaign headquarters.
It is expected, though nothing has been announced as yet, that Kaplan will run next year in opposition to White. It is unclear what effect, if any, this race will have between Stack and the Boyle Brothers.
For now, though, Martina White is the Keystone State’s newest State Representative.
Update: Seth Kaplan spoke to PoliticsPA about tonight’s results:
“I’m not going to focus on what is obviously a very embarrassing night for Lt. Governor Stack that his hand picked candidate lost by 15 points. I will say I am proud of my work to help Brendan Boyle become the only Democrat to win this historically GOP seat. Tonight’s results are a reminder that for Democrats to win we need to nominate hard working, qualified candidates.”