We’re still getting results in Pa.’s primary election. Here’s what we know so far

By: - June 5, 2020 1:30 pm

(Capital-Star photo).

The candidates are set for two closely watched Congressional races, a crowded statewide primary was settled, and as many as seven sitting state lawmakers could have lost reelection as results trickled in all week from Pennsylvania’s June 2 primary.

The Associated Press has named Auditor General Eugene DePasquale the winner in a Democratic primary to face Central Pennsylvania U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-10th District.

The Pennsylvania Department of State has not certified any election results yet, since county election officials are still tallying votes from a record number of mail-in ballots.

But based on unofficial results, Depasquale led Hershey attorney Tom Brier 62.74 percent to 37.28 percent. In a text message, Brier said he was not yet conceding the contest. 

The AP has called a six-way primary in northeastern Pennsylvania for Jim Bognet, who will oppose Democratic U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-8th District, in November.

The race for Pa. Auditor General

In the ultra-competitive statewide race for auditor general, western Pennsylvania’s Michael Lamb has emerged as the Democratic nominee for the row office position with 98.84 percent reporting. 

As of Friday afternoon, the race was still too close to call, as mail in ballots continue to be counted. 

Lamb carries 34.57 percent of the vote. Lamb’s closest competitor for the Democratic nod is Nina Ahmad, a former Philadelphia deputy mayor, with 29.98 percent of the vote, according to unofficial tallies.. 

The winner faces off against Republican and Dauphin County Controller Tim DeFoor in the November general election.

The row office post opened up because current  Auditor General, Eugene DePasquale has served the constitutional maximum of two, four-year terms. 

As controller, Lamb launched the Fiscal Focus Pittsburgh website, a resource for citizens to see how taxpayer money is being spent and make city budget operations more transparent.  

If elected to the statewide position, Lamb has promised to focus on government efficiency, transparency and accountability.

Live Coverage: The latest on the 2020 Pennsylvania primary election

The General Assembly

In the General Assembly, all but one of the endangered incumbents are Democrats, and most of them represent urban districts in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh.

The AP has officially called just three of the races — those of Sen. Larry Farnese and Reps. Maria Donatucci and G. Roni Green. All are Philadelphia Democrats.

Farnese lost to Bernie Sanders-backed progressive activist Nikil Saval. Donatucci lost to city hall staffer and community advocate Regina Young. Green lost to Amen Brown, who was backed by former Rep. Vanessa Lowery Brown, of no relation.

Another incumbent who appears in danger of losing his seat is state Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, who has become a pariah in Harrisburg among his fellow Senate Democrats over sexual harassment allegations that he denies.

Gov. Tom Wolf, a fellow Democrat who called for Leach’s resignation, gave $35,000 to Leach’s opponent, Amanda Cappelletti, a local municipal official.

Other incumbents who are trailing in-person vote totals, according to unofficial results on the state Department of State’s website, are:

  • Rep. Jim Roebuck, D-Philadelphia, who is losing by seven percentage points in a four-way West Philadelphia race to community activist Rick Krajewski. Krajewski and Saval both belong to the same profressive organizing group, Reclaim Philadelphia.
  • Rep. Adam Ravenstahl, D-Allegheny, who is losing 55-45 percent to Emily Kinkead, a Pittsburgh attorney in a district including Pittsburgh and some northern suburbs. Ravenstahl, scion of a Pittsburgh political family, has faced primary opponents in the past.
  • Rep. Mike Puskaric, R-Allegheny, who is losing 51-49 percent to Tom Kirsch, a real estate developer in a Mon Valley district. Puskaric was in his first term replacing former GOP Rep. Rick Saccone, with whom he has shared a rivalry.

Four more races — two in Philadelphia, one in Allentown and one in Butler County — remain close, with incumbents ahead but margins close as potentially thousands of mail-in votes remain to be counted.

They include:

  • Rep. Peter Schweyer, D-Lehigh, who is up 51-49 against challenger Enid Santiago in an Allentown district. 
  • Rep. Mary Isaacson, D-Philadelphia, who is winning by nine percentage points in a four-way race for reelection.
  • Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia, who is winning 54-46 against challenger Marisa Shaaban.
  • Rep. Marci Mustello, R-Butler, who is winning 54-46 against challenger Ryan Covert.

Other lawmakers with primaries, but whose leads appear safer in the double digits, include Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, Rep. Danielle Otten, D-Chester and Rep. Kristine Howard, D-Chester.

Outspoken progressive Rep. Summer Lee, D-Allegheny, also emphatically beat opponent Chris Roland by more than 50 percentage points.

Moderate Republican Rep. Tom Mehaffie, R-Dauphin, faced a three-way primary from two conservative opponents. Mehaffie is winning with 43 percent of the vote, while his opponents have evenly split the rest.

The General Assembly also had 16 open seats to fill due to retirements — 14 in the House, and two in the Senate.

Among those retiring are two of the most powerful leaders in both the House and Senate, but only House Speaker Mike Turzai’s chosen successor appears to have won.

14 and counting: Here’s our map tracking 2020’s Pa. legislative retirements

Among the results from those competitive races to fill empty seats are: 

  • Rep. Cris Dush, R-Jefferson, is poised to replace retiring Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati in a heavily Republican north-central Pennsylvania district. Scarnati spent $325,000 of his own campaign money to support his preferred candidate, Herm Suplizio, city manager of DuBois.
  • Rob Mercuri, the endorsed successor to retiring Turzai, took 63 percent of the vote in a three-way primary. He will face Democrat Emily Skopov in a closely watched suburban Pittsburgh race.
  • After challenging the incumbent in 2018, Democrat Manny Guzman, a party operative, won the backing of retiring Rep. Tom Caltagirone, first elected in 1976. Guzman then was the victor in a five-way primary to replace him, taking 49 percent of the vote.
  • Disability rights advocate and Democrat Jessica Benham will likely represent a south Pittsburgh seat after winning a four-way primary. Finishing third was Heather Kass, endorsed by the local party despite social media posts supporting President Donald Trump.
  • Rep. Carolyn Comitta, D-Chester, won a three-way race to replace Sen. Andrew Dinniman, D-Chester, as the Democratic nominee in a suburban Philadelphia district. Committa, who was backed by Wolf, beat Dinniman’s preferred candidate, legislative aide Don Vyzamal, and will face Republican Kevin Runey in November.

In an alliterative altercation, Republican Wendell Williams and Democrat Anton Andrew will likely face off in November over an open suburban Philadelphia House district in Chester and Delaware counties that is already a top target for Democrats.

This piece was written by Associate Editor Cassie Miller and Capital-Star Staff Reporters Stephen Caruso and Elizabeth Hardison.

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