Election 2021: Dems show signs of strength in Pittsburgh and its suburbs | Analysis
Democratic Allegheny County Councilors swept their races this year, including three contested elections
Mayoral-elect Ed Gainey at his primary election party in May 2021 (Photo via Pittsburgh City Paper).
By Ryan Deto
PITTSBURGH — Voters made history on Nov. 2, when Ed Gainey won the general election, ensuring he will become the first Black mayor in Pittsburgh’s history.
His victory was expected after a surprise defeat over incumbent Mayor Bill Peduto in the spring primary election, as a Democrat running against a Republican in a city that has three Democrats to every one Republican.
Gainey secured over 70% of the vote with a few precincts still left to count. There was some talk about Republican Tony Moreno possibly cracking 30% of the vote in the heavily Democratic city, but he only has about 28.5% of the vote.
That over-performed former President Donald Trump’s 2020 vote share in the city, but under-performed another GOP performance in the city. Republican mayoral candidate Mark DeSantis secured nearly 35% of the vote in a 2007 special election won by Democrat Luke Ravenstahl.
Gainey’s strong showing wasn’t the only power-play by Democrats in Pittsburgh and its surrounding suburbs. Democratic Allegheny County Councilors swept their races this year, including three contested elections, flipping one Republican-held seat. Democrats also flipped suburban school boards, and held off some challengers who were campaigning on Critical Race Theory hysteria.
But Republicans had an excellent night too, sweeping all statewide elections. Exurban and rural areas in the Pittsburgh area saw more dramatic shifts to the right, which played a part in carrying statewide GOP judge candidates across the finish line. And Republicans in Westmoreland County took total control of county offices there.
But even surrounded in a rising tide of red, Pittsburgh and its suburbs saw signs of Democrats strengthening.
Statewide races in odd numbered years in Pennsylvania are pretty good barometers of straightforward turnout gains and losses between Democrats and Republicans.
Statewide judge races tend to be low-salience, so votes for those closely reflect party preference and show how many voters turn out on Election Day. As of the count now, Republican Kevin Brobson defeated Democrat Maria McLaughlin 51.8%-48.1%.
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