The Lead

Allegheny Co. DA Zappala nabs enough write-in votes to appear on GOP ballot in the fall

By: - May 23, 2023 3:03 pm

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala (Pittsburgh City Paper photo).

PITTSBURGH — Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala, a longtime Democrat, has received enough write-in votes from Allegheny County Republicans to qualify as the GOP nominee for district attorney, according to the county elections division. 

Zappala  received 9,697 of more than 11,000 write-in votes from Allegheny County Republicans. 

If he accepts the nomination, Zappala would face Democratic nominee Matt Dugan in a rematch of the primary where Dugan beat the longtime incumbent 55.5% to 44.3%, according to unofficial tallies. 

Zappala’s campaign did not reply to a request for comment from the Capital-Star on Tuesday. But on election night he appeared to suggest he wasn’t going away just yet, referring to the primary as “halftime.”

‘Halftime?’ Allegheny Co. Dem DA nominee Dugan may face Zappala again in November

Zappala served six terms as Allegheny County district attorney, and comes from a family with a history of judicial service; his father, Stephen Zappala, Sr. was a justice on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and his grandfather Frank Zappala was an attorney and Democrat who represented Allegheny County in the state House from 1935 to 1939.

And in an odd twist, if he accepts the GOP nomination, it wouldn’t be the first time Zappala has been part of an election for Allegheny County district attorney where a candidate switched parties after losing the primary — only in that race it was his opponent who made the change.

Zappala was first appointed district attorney in 1998 when incumbent Robert Colville became a judge on the Court of Common Pleas,  and Zappala sought the Democratic nomination for district attorney in the 1999 primary. 

He won, but his primary opponent, W. Christopher Conrad, received enough write-in votes to be the Republican in the November general election. Zappala went on to win that election and subsequent re-election.

The general election is November 7.

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Kim Lyons
Kim Lyons

Kim Lyons is a veteran western Pennsylvania journalist who has covered people and trends in politics and business for local and national publications. Follow her on Threads @social_kimly