Top Ten 2019 Races To Watch
Although decision day 2020 is just under one year away, there are plenty of important local races taking place in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania on Nov. 5, 2019.
Here’s a breakdown of the top ten races to watch Tuesday night.
1. Superior Court (Democrats Amanda Green Hawkins and Dan McCaffery vs Republicans Megan King and Christylee Peck)
It’s only right to start off with the lone statewide judicial race. With two open seats on the 15 member court, four candidates make a push for the 10 year term. Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Dan McCaffery and lawyer and former Allegheny County Councilwoman Amanda Green-Hawkins were endorsed by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party for the two seats, while Cumberland County Court Judge Christylee Peck and Chester County prosecutor Megan King were backed by the Pennsylvania Republican Party.
2. Delaware County Council
While Delaware County continues to trend blue, the Democratic Party is hoping to hold hold the majority on the county council for the first time ever. In 2017, Democrats Brian Zidek and Kevin Madden became the first Democrats to be elected onto the five-member council. Now, three seats are opening on the council, two due to term limits and one deciding not to see reelection, who are all Republicans. The three Democrats seeking a seat on the county council are tax and business attorney Christine Reuther, Radnor Conservancy founder Elaine Paul Schaefer, and University of the Sciences professor Monica Taylor. The three Republicans attempting to maintain the GOP majority are non-profit board chair Mike Morgan, plumbing and heating business owner Jim Raith and special needs advocate Kelly Colvin.
3. Allegheny County District Attorney (Democrat District Attorney Stephen Zappala vs Independent Lisa Middleman)
Since 1998, Stephen Zappala has cruised to countywide victories for Allegheny County District Attorney. This year, the longtime incumbent faces a challenger to his left in public defender Lisa Middleman. Zappala is backed by members of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee, and the AFL-CIO, while Middleman has received endorsements from state Reps. Summer Lee, Ed Gainey, and Sara Innamorato, and SEIU Healthcare.
4. Philadelphia City Council
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney all-but-notched a second term with his victory in the Democratic Primary in May, although he does face Republican Billy Ciancaglini in Tuesday’s election, but the race for city council at-large has drawn legitimate interest and caused in-fighting in the city’s Democratic Committee. All seven at-large seats on Philly’s City Council are up for grabs, but it’s the two seats designated for minority party candidates that could possibly change hands. The five Democrats on the ballot are expected to coast to victory, while Working Family Party candidates community organizer Kendra Brooks and pastor Nicolas O’Rourke are expected to give Republicans, who have held the two minority seats on the Council for 70 years, a run for their money. Against the city party’s blessing, some elected Democrats, including City Councilwoman Helen Gym and state Rep. Chris Rabb endorsed the Working Party Family candidates.
5. Scranton Mayor
Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright resigned from office in July after entering a plea agreement on three federal charges, which include bribery, conspiracy, and “attempt to obstruct commerce by extortion,” and the field to replace the former Democratic Mayor is crowded. Chris Cullen is the Democratic nominee, while Charlie Spano is representing the Republican Party, but five additional candidates have launched independent bids for the seat. Kyle Donahue, a current Democratic city councilman, former Scranton School Director Paige Cognetti, Josh Goshleski, pizza shop owner Giovanni Piccolino, and Gary St. Fleur are all running as Independents.
6. Delaware County District Attorney (Republican District Attorney Katayoun Copeland vs Democrat Jack Stollsteimer)
While Democrats are attempting to gain a majority in the county council for the first time, the race for District Attorney shouldn’t be overlooked as well. Incumbent District Attorney Katayoun Copeland was appointed to serve as district attorney in January 2018 after Jack Whelan was elected common pleas court judge. Both campaigns have criticized the other for campaign contributions from outside groups. Copeland’s campaign has attacked Stollsteimer for the $100,000 contribution from liberal billionaire George Soros. Stollsteimer has fired back at Copeland for the nearly $500,000 in to race from “two dark money PACS” and “Trump Republicans.”
7. Chester County District Attorney Race (Democrat Deb Ryan vs Republican Michael Noone)
Incumbent Republican District Attorney Tom Hogan announced in the summer that he would not be seeking another term for office. The race to replace him features individuals who worked with one another in the office. Democrat Deb Ryan will face Republican Michael Noone for the position. Although Democrats have been gaining ground in this Philadelphia suburban county, the position has never been held by a Democrat.
8. Lackawanna County Commissioner Race (Democrat Commissioner Jerry Notarianni, Debi Domenick vs Republicans Chris Chermak and Michael Giannetta)
The results in May’s primary for Lackawanna County Commissioner turned out to be one of the biggest surprises in the state and is shaping up for an interesting showdown. In May, incumbents Patrick O’Malley, a Democrat, and Laurenn Cummings, a Republican, both lost their bids for another term, leaving just Democrat Jerry Notarianni as the lone incumbent to advance to November’s election. With three seats on the board for the traditionally Democratic county, which has trended red in recent years, the race will come down to Democrats Jerry Notarianni and Debi Domenick against Republicans Chris Chermak and Michael Giannetta.
9. Northampton County District Attorney (Republican Tom Carroll vs Democrat Terry Houck)
John Morganelli, currently the longest serving District Attorney in the state, announced in November 2018 that he would not seek an eighth term for the position and instead launched a bid for a judicial seat in the county. The vacancy is resulting in two former employees of Morganelli seeking the seat. Tom Carroll, a prosecutor-turned-defense attorney, is running as the Republican nominee, while Terry Houck, a prosecutor, is running as the Democrat.
10. Berks County Commissioner (Democrat Commissioner Kevin Barnhardt and Reading City Councilwoman Donna Reed vs Republican Commissioner Christian Leinbach and Real Estate Agent Michael Rivera)
The Commissioner race will also guarantee a new face on the board in 2020. In the May primary, longtime Republican Commissioner Mark Scott lost his bid for a spot on the ballot to Michael Rivera. Leinbach and Rivera will face Reading City Councilwoman Donna Reed, who received the most votes in the Democratic primary, and incumbent Kevin Barnhardt for the three member board.