Election Day 2020: These are the races you’re watching today | Tuesday Morning Coffee

November 3, 2020 6:55 am

Voters line up at a polling place on Election Day. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Good Election Day Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Yes, it’s true, the White House fight between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden is devouring practically all of the political oxygen. But as you head to the polls this morning (if you haven’t voted already), we’d like to direct your attention away from the top of the ticket to talk about some key races further down your election ballot.

Because as compelling as the fight for the White House is — and it’s the most consequential in decades — there’s a really credible argument to be made that today’s other elections are even more important because they are the levels of government that are even closer to the people.

To review, all 18 members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation are on the ballot today. Ditto for all 203 members of the House and half the 50-member Senate.

All three elected statewide row offices. There also are some ballot questions in local jurisdictions that will have an immediate impact on the way that thousands of Pennsylvanians live their lives.

And because these races are so intensely local, we turned for advice to the people who know them best: The most engaged, erudite, and we’re sure, best-looking newsletter audience in our fair Commonwealth, the Morning Coffee readers.

So here’s a look at some of the races that you’re worried about, are engaged in, and will be tracking as we embark on what will surely be a very long and eventful day. Thanks to everyone who chimed in on Twitter when we asked for help.

Pennsylvania Democratic Auditor General Eugene DePasquale (L) and Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, of the 10th Congressional District. (Photos from WikiMedia Commons Capital-Star photo collage by John L. Micek)

1. The fight for Central Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District: C’mon, you saw this one coming. Don’t tell us that you didn’t.

The contest between two-term Democratic Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and GOP incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, both York County natives, is one of the most closely watched in the country and Perry finished out the campaign as one the 20 most-endangered congressional incumbents in the nation.

President Donald Trump carried the district in 2016, but Perry barely scraped in 2018, winning re-election by just about 3 percentage points over Democratic George Scott, in a race that guaranteed that, win, lose, or draw, someone named Scott was going to Congress.

The district, which also includes Cumberland and Dauphin counties, also was redrawn in 2018, going from a solid Republican red to a more Democrat-friendly purple.

On the trail, Perry has taken heat for his repeated votes to repeal Obamacare and to strip protections for people with preexisting conditions, as well as his reluctance to offer a full repudiation of the horrible and false QAnon conspiracy theoryDePasquale, meanwhile, has been criticized for taking campaign donations from Gov. Tom Wolf, even as he’s conducted an audit of Wolf’s COVID-19 business waiver program.

Readers tagged this race as one of their most closely watched during our informal Twitter survey on Monday night.

Christina Finello, left, is challenging Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, right, in the 1st Congressional District outside Philadelphia. (Finello courtesy of Finello campaign, Fitzpatrick courtesy of AFGE/Flickr)

2. The Battle for Bucks County’s 1st Congressional District.
On Monday, Politico moved the suburban Philadelphia contest between Democrat Christina Finello and GOP U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick from “lean Republican” to “toss up,” reinforcing both the importance of the Philly ‘burbs to the Democrats’ election day strategy, but also the competitiveness of a district that came out for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Fitzpatrick, the brother of former U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, is  a former FBI agent. Finello is a public health administrator and borough council member in tiny Ivyland Borough.

Fitzpatrick has crossed over to vote with Democrats on such issues as gun-violence reduction, childcare assistance, infrastructure funding, LGBTQ rights and other matters. Finello has tried to counter by tying Fitzpatrick to Trump as often as she can.

An Oct. 6 Public Policy poll showed the two candidates running in a statistical dead heat.

The Pennsylvania House (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

3. The Battle for the General Assembly.
This was the one where Morning Coffee readers spoke the loudest during our very informal and utterly unscientific survey. As we noted above, all 203 seats in the House and half the 50-member Senate are on the ballot today. Democrats are hoping to come out of Election Day successfully completing a two-cycle strategy to retake the House after a decade spent in the minority.

Democrats need to flip nine seats to win the House and four seats to flip the Senate, the preponderance of those seats are in the bluing suburbs of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Democrats are getting some help. Such outside groups as Everytown for Gun Safety and EMILY’s List, are each spending $1 million-plus to try to turn the chamber blue this fall.

According to you, these are the races to watch:

In the Senate:
Democrat John Kane v. GOP incumbent Sen. Tom Killion, of Delaware County.
SD13: Democrat Janet Diaz 
v. GOP incumbent Sen. Scott Martin, of Lancaster County.
Democrat George Scott (yes, that one) v. GOP incumbent Sen. John DiSanto, of Dauphin County.
SD31: Democrat Shanna Danielson v. GOP incumbent Sen. Mike Regan, of Cumberland County.

In the House:
HD28: Democrat Emily Skopov v. GOP hopeful Rob Mercuri (the seat is open, due to the resignation of ex-House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny)
HD30: Democrat Lissa Geiger Shulman 
v. GOP incumbent Rep. Lori Mizgorski, of Allegheny County.
HD72: Republican Howard Terndrup v. 
Democratic incumbent Rep. Frank Burns, of Cambria Coungty
Democrat Brittney Rodas v. GOP incumbent Rep. Andrew Lewis, of Dauphin County.
Democrat Lindsay Drew v. GOP incumbent Rep. Tom Mehaffie, of Dauphin County.
Democrat Tara Zrinski v. Republican Ann Flood (the seat is open due to the retirement of GOP Rep. Marcia Hahn) in Northampton County.
HD178: Democrat Ann Marie Mitchell v. GOP incumbent Rep. Wendi Thomas, of Bucks County

That’s a sampling of your favorite picks. There were so many more. But no matter who you support, if you haven’t voted yet, get out there and vote today. It’s the most important thing you can do as a citizen.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.
To start off with, here’s our handy primer, courtesy of Cassie Miller, of everything you need to know as you head to the polls today. The staff of the Capital-Star will be offering continuously updated coverage all day right here.

Looking to turn Pa. blue, Joe Biden barnstormed Pittsburgh on Monday night, where he had some tough talk for President Donald TrumpLady Gaga also performed. Stephen Caruso has the details,

President Donald Trump and Democratic veep candidate Kamala Harris barnstormed must-win NEPA on Monday afternoon, making two very different pitches to voters there, your humble newsletter author can report.

Harris was in Philadelphia on Monday night, rallying the faithful. Our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune have the story. And Philadelphia officials are boosting police staffing on Election Day, the Tribune also reports.

In a final push, Vice President Mike Pence and Jill Biden made closing arguments to voters in the critical swing county of Erie, Correspondent Shayma Musa reports.

Erie officials also have clarified open carry regulations at the polls, Musa further reports.

Amidst all this, COVID-19 cases are back to pandemic peak highsHealth Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said Monday. Cassie Miller has the story.

In Philadelphia, officials are boosting police staffing and resources for Election Day, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.

Speaking of which, election security advocates warned Monday of likely voter intimidation at the polls, our Hearken Election SOS Fellow Kenny Cooper reports.

And if you’re freaking out about Election Day — and who could blame you? — let the wisdom of two Mexican philosophers calm you down this morning. That’s on our Commentary Page this morning.

CLEVELAND, OHIO – SEPTEMBER 29: U.S. President Donald Trump and former Vice President and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speak during the first presidential debate at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. This is the first of three planned debates between the two candidates in the lead up to the election on November 3. (Photo by Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Images)

These Pennsylvania counties won’t start counting mail-in ballots until Wednesday, that could distort the resultsSpotlight PA reports.
Allegheny County Council member Bethany Hallam says she won’t resign over a since-deleted tweet where she said “let’s riot against fascism,” the Post-Gazette reports.
PennLive has a list of counties worth watching this Election Day.
The Morning Call has the Lehigh Valley Procrastinator’s Guide to the election.
In Luzerne County, they’re bracing for a huge turnout and a flood of mail-in ballots, the Citizens-Voice reports.
WHYY-FM looks at how some Pennsylvanians prepared for Election Day: With non-violent action training and prayer.

Here’s your #Philadelphia Instagram of the Day.


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GoErie has its local elections guide.
The York Daily Record also has a guide for readers.
PoliticsPA rounds up some of the 11th hour polling 
in Pennsylvania, where Joe Biden leads going into the final day.
NYMag’s Intelligencer has its guide of what to watch for on Election Night.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out today to some folks who will really need some cake: Philadelphia election attorney Adam Bonin; longtime Friend O’the BlogCarrie Fischer Lepore, and our former Morning Call colleague, now Dr. Genevieve Marshall. Congratulations, friends. We hope you find some time for tranquility today.

Heavy Rotation.
This one’s an Election Day tradition that goes back to the old Capitol Ideas days at the Morning Call. Here’s Nashville’s favorite sons, The Shazam (and among the nicest fellas we ever had the pleasure of sharing a stage with) and their classic “Super Tuesday.”

Tuesday’s Gratuitous Soccer Link.
The Guardian’s David Squires holds forth on Donald Trump’s relationship to English football — we didn’t know he had one. We think they’re being arch.

And now you’re up to date.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.