Democrats, Republicans each appear set to pick up one seat on Pennsylvania’s Superior Court

By: - November 5, 2019 10:59 pm

The Pennsylvania Judicial Center in Harrisburg (Capital-Star file)

One Republican and one Democrat appeared likely to join Pennsylvania’s Superior Court following Tuesday’s election.

As of 11 p.m., with nearly 70 percent of precincts reporting, Megan McCarthy King, a Republican prosecutor from Chester County, and Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Daniel McCaffery, a Democrat,  appeared on course to victory with 25.77 percent and 25.5 percent of the vote, respectively, according to unofficial numbers from the Department of State.

At its full complement, there are 15 judges on the Superior Court, one of three statewide appellate courts in Pennsylvania.

With Tuesday’s results , there are now 8 elected as Republicans and 6 elected as Democrats.

One of the two vacancies was created by Judge Paula Francisco Ott, elected as a Republican, who decided not to run for retention. Judge Kate Ford Elliott, elected as a Democrat, created the other vacancy when she became a senior judge.

Pennsylvania’s appellate judges and justices on the Supreme, Superior, and Commonwealth courts are elected to an initial 10-year term. 

The Commonwealth Court handles lawsuits against the state or other public entities. The state Supreme Court is the final arbiter of any appeal.

After that, they can walk away from the bench or stand for a retention election, where voters vote “yes” or “no” to an additional 10 years.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court is often seen as a stepping stone to a higher judicial office.

On Tuesday, two Superior Court judges and two Commonwealth Court judges were up for retention. 

All four won another term: Anne E. Lazarus, elected as a Democrat, and Judy Olson, elected as a Republican, to the Superior Court; and Kevin Brobson and Patricia McCullough, both elected as Republicans, to the Commonwealth Court.

Sarah Anne Hughes contributed reporting.

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John L. Micek

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