Democratic Allegheny County executive candidate Sara Innamorato (Pittsburgh City Paper photo).
PITTSBURGH — Progressive Democrat candidates in Allegheny County came up big on Tuesday, winning key races in Allegheny County, beating Democratic stalwarts and signaling a shift away from the old-school style of politics in Pennsylvania’s second-largest county.
State Rep. Sara Innamorato, D-Allegheny, won the Democratic nomination for Allegheny County Executive on Tuesday, according to unofficial tallies, beating a crowded field of candidates that included Allegheny County Treasurer John Weinstein, Pittsburgh city Controller Michael Lamb, and former Allegheny County Council member Dave Fawcett. =
With 96% of precincts reporting, Innamorato had 37.54% of the vote, Weinstein had 29.55%, Lamb had 19.85% and Fawcett had 9.7%. Theresa Sciulli Colaizzi, who entered the race late, had 2.1%, and businessman Will Parker finished with 1.13% of the vote.
As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, the county elections department was showing voter turnout at just under 30%.
If she defeats Republican nominee Joe Rockey in November — and she is widely expected to — Innamorato will be the first woman to hold the county executive job.
“When I launched this campaign, I said I was running because I wanted to build a county for us all,” Innamorato told supporters at a victory rally Tuesday in the city’s Bloomfield neighborhood. “The county executive will chart the direction for the next generation. And our refrain continues to be: Let’s create a region where we can all thrive, where we have shared and sustained prosperity for all.”
The field of six Democrats competed to replace incumbent Rich Fitzgerald, who was term-limited from running for reelection.
Fitzgerald threw his support behind Lamb earlier this month, but by then Innamorato had emerged as the front-runner. Weinstein topped the other candidates in fundraising, amassing $1.35 million between January and May.
Lamb was the first to concede and congratulate Innamorato on her win. In his concession speech, Weinstein blamed the loss partly on the fact that “there were too many white men in this race, that’s the reality of it.”
Fitzgerald told WESA-FM Tuesday night that it looked like moderates had not done well in the election. “And so it’s been seven years in a row of the far left winning Democratic primaries in Allegheny County,” he said. “It looks like we’re going to become similar to places like San Francisco or Seattle or Portland, with a far left agenda of our elected officials.”
In perhaps the biggest upset of the night in Allegheny County, Chief Public Defender Matt Dugan bested six-term incumbent District Attorney Stephen Zappala. With 96% of precincts reporting, Dugan had 55.6% of the vote compared to Zappala’s 44.28%, according to unofficial tallies.
Dugan had not been able to match Zappala’s fundraising efforts, but benefited from in-kind donations from the Pa. Justice and Public Safety political action committee, part of the left-leaning Justice and Safety PAC, which receives funding from billionaire George Soros. The PAC provided more than $700,000 worth of TV ads
Dugan also received support from the Color of Change PAC, which was critical of Zappala’s prosecutions of people of color who commit low-level offenses.
The other closely watched race in Allegheny County, the city council at-large race, pitted progressive incumbent Bethany Hallam against challenger Joanna Doven.
Doven, press secretary for former Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and small business owner also had the endorsement of Rich Fitzgerald. Hallam had 56.4% of the vote with 96% of precincts reporting, and Doven had 42.99%, according to unofficial tallies.
Hallam and Fitzgerald had butted heads particularly over conditions at the Allegheny County Jail, and she made no secret that she was looking forward to the post-Fitzgerald era in the region.
On Tuesday, it seemed that era had arrived.
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