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McVay Defeats Waters for Dem Superior Court Nom

Jack McVay Jr., an Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge, has won the Democratic nomination for a seat on PA’s Superior Court.

The matchup between Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Joe Waters and McVay was the only contested statewide race Tuesday.

McVay lead Waters 55.8% to 44.2% with about 93% of precincts reporting.

It was a true east-west matchup: the two opponents hail from the state’s most populous Waters-McVay2-300x225cities and neither one did any advertising. Though Philadelphia has 50% more registered Democrats than Allegheny County, McVay got over 91,000 votes from his home base (87%) to 51,000 votes for Waters in Philly (88%).

Waters was endorsed strongly by the state’s Democratic committee at its winter meeting in February.

In addition, Waters also held a financial advantage, according to the latest fundraising reports. The Philadelphia Judge had raised over $57,000, much of it from the state’s labor unions, in the period from April 2nd to May 6th.

During that same time period, McVay raised $10,400, most of which came from a PAC connected to a Pittsburgh law firm.

Neither, candidate, however, raised enough money to purchase any TV or radio advertising, making both campaigns heavily reliant on their get-out-the-vote efforts. The relatively higher turnout in Pittsburgh, spurred on by a competitive mayoral primary, may have provided a boost to McVay.

And local Philadelphia’s court system exactly had a sterling reputation in recent months, thanks to alleged ethics scandals by some judges.

McVay’s strongest support came from the endorsements he received from the state’s two most prominent newspapers, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Inquirer’s was surprising given Waters’ Philly roots.

Vic Stabile won the uncontested Republican primary. The general election will be a replay of the geographic matchup from 2011, when Stabile lost to Allegheny County Democrat David Wecht for the same office. However, Wecht’s family enjoys high name ID in western Pa., which McVay won’t have.

“Vic Stabile’s extensive legal experience, coupled with his strong record of community involvement, makes him an exceptionally qualified candidate for the Superior Court. Vic continues to crisscross our Commonwealth with unparalleled vigor and I look forward to working towards victory this November,” PA GOP Chairman Rob Gleason said in a congratulatory statement.

A PA Superior Court judge serves a ten-year term and unlike a Pa. Supreme Court justice rarely hears cases of importance to politicos.

14 Responses

  1. Facts are facts, there is a 10% Western PA bias in Democratic Primaries. Wonder if the Schwartz campaign will argue the fact or maybe, just maybe learn from it and develop a sound strategy to overcome it.


    Your logic is flawed. McVay was not in the race until after the State Committee Meeting. I was personally at the meeting and Waters along with another candidate (at the time) Mike Wojcik were competing for the endorsement. Waters won the endorsement and Wojcik dropped out of the race shortly after.

    Upon hearing that Wojcik dropped out, Jack McVay stepped in and obviously has made a better impression among Democratic voters across the state. It was not just in Philadelphia or Allegheny Counties, McVay won a lot of counties across the state. I have met all three of the candidates and all of them would serve the public well.

    Don’t blame Chairman Burns for the fallacies of the Waters Campaign. It is time to support Jack McVay as much as we can!

  3. This was easy to predict. Of course Allegheny County was going to have a much higher turn-out than Philly because of more hotly contested races and they generally have higher turn-out in off-year elections.. And there is a natural bias against Philly candidates west of Harrisburg. I don’t think Waters carried one county west of the Susquehanna River. Allegheny county judicial candidates are stronger in the general election for the Dems anyway. McVay will win in the fall.

  4. The fact that some voters WILL NOT ELECT a police officer to a judgeship had nothing to do with it? That certainly motivated my vicarious vote, as some D’s whom i know ask me about judicial races.

  5. Waters may have traveled the state, but he had “no response” in the League of Women’s Voters “Voters Guide” published in my local paper. McVay did respond and the information he provided showed credentials that would appeal to Democratic voters.

  6. Joe Waters loss for Superior Court is a loss for hard working middle class people.

  7. Democratic State Committee fails again. Put Waters in the boneyard. Bricmont, Lynn, Younge (twice) and many more of the last decade.

  8. @western dem
    Joe traveled the state busted his ass to lose to a guy who did nothing.
    Joe worked a hell of a lot harder.
    People didn’t vote for McVay people voted for Allegheny county.
    If McVay campaigns like he just did for the general he might as well just hand the seat to Vic.

  9. Don’t blame Jim. I’d blame Waters for not doing what he needed to in western part of state. Turnout was lower
    in southeast, Scranton; etc.

  10. @PoliticsPA,

    Your sentence: “And local Philadelphia’s court system exactly had a sterling reputation in recent months, thanks to alleged ethics scandals by some judges.”

    What? Are you kidding me? Wow, that is horrible grammar. Where did you learn how to write? I never have heard the phrase “exactly had a sterling reputation.” “Exactly had”? Come on, that is terrible. Did you not use a dictionary to reference the definition of the adjective “sterling” before using it in that sentence? I believe you meant to use any antonym of “sterling,” but not “sterling” itself. There are hundreds of free dictionaries online, please consult one next time. Below is a link to the Merriam-Webster definition of “sterling” (please note the third definition of the adjective form). Is it too much to ask for better writing and/or editing? Please???

  11. Jim Burn should be removed. Once again he fails to carry an endorsement for statewide judge. He sold Judge Joe Waters out in Allegheny County like hr has done to many others before and his idiot twin in SEPA Brady failed hometown Joe Waters by turning out such a puny amount of votes.

  • Understanding that basic education funding should/will be first, what should be the next highest priority for the General Assembly?

    • Raising The Minimum Wage (25%)
    • Legalizing Adult-Use Marijuana (24%)
    • None of the above. Something Else. (20%)
    • Economic Development (14%)
    • Higher Education (8%)
    • Public Transportation (8%)
    • Workforce Opportunities and Innovation (2%)

    Total Voters: 51

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