Senate candidate Dave McCormick traveled to Montgomery, Bucks, and Lehigh counties Monday, campaigning statewide with the Pennsylvania Republican Party’s endorsed judicial candidates.
The most high-profile candidate is Montco Judge Maria Carluccio, who is running for state Supreme Court against Philadelphia Democrat Judge Dan McCaffrey. While a Carluccio win wouldn’t tip the balance of the current 4-2 Democratic high court, she could move the GOP closer to a majority.
Introducing the judicial candidates, McCormick said, “These elections are so important. There’s so much optimism across Pennsylvania among Republicans. You need two things to win. You need great candidates, and you need great execution. We have incredible candidates here who are absolutely overqualified for these incredibly important jobs. They’re deeply committed. They have incredible values. I’ve had a chance to get to know all four of them.”
“These are candidates that are going to be impartial,” he added. “They are going to be judges for all Pennsylvanians. They’re not going to be political judges.”
Asked why he was campaigning with the judicial candidates, McCormick said, “They are running great races, and these judicial races are so important. I said that if I were the nominee, I’d campaign with the judges, so this is an opportunity to do that. And I think they’re all great people, of great character, and I think they’re imminently qualified.”
State Democratic spokeswoman Maddy McDaniel slammed McCormick for backing “dangerous, anti-abortion” Republican judges.
While Democrat McCaffrey is struggling to answer ethical questions related to his hiring of his domestic partner to serve on his staff, Carluccio is being hammered with ads over abortion.
“My opponents have made abortion an issue in this race,” Carluccio told DVJournal. “In Pennsylvania, a woman has a right to choose up to 24 weeks, and that’s the law that we, as judges, apply. Anyone who says we’re going to change that is an activist and someone who doesn’t understand their role in government.”
Judge Harry Smail Jr. is running for Superior Court, which hears appeals of criminal and civil cases. Smail has served for eight and half years on the Court of Common Pleas for Westmoreland County, handling family court cases and then complex civil litigation on a variety of nuanced legal issues related to government and municipal issues, elections, energy and land use, and constitutional challenges.
A former parole officer, he was in private practice for 17 years.
“I’m running to serve the people of Pennsylvania but also because I think that I’ve achieved a level in the courtroom and that court’s the judge of judges…I think it’s critical that you have that kind of Common Pleas experience… I’ve had over 100 appeals, and I’ve never had one reversed.”
Maria Battista, also running for Superior Court, is back on the campaign trail after being struck by a car while putting up campaign signs. She has experience as a former prosecutor and with family and civil law.
She holds a J.D. and a doctorate in education and has worked in state government for the Departments of Health and State. As an administrative hearing officer, Battista has presided over hundreds of hearings.
“What I want people to know is, it will truly be equal justice under the law,” said Battista. “Justice is to be blind.”
Lawyer Megan Martin, who grew up in Wallingford but now lives in Cumberland County, is running for Commonwealth Court.
“We will be judges for all the people of Pennsylvania,” said Martin. “We’re going to be fair and impartial. We’re going to keep politics out of our courtroom where it absolutely does not belong. We’re going to defend your constitutional rights and defend the rule of law. We’re not going to legislate from the bench. We’re going to hold our government accountable.”
Martin told DVJournal she “believes in public service, and I’ve been called to serve.” She has dedicated nearly 30 years as a lawyer to public service. She was a civilian lawyer for the Navy and, most recently, was the first woman parliamentarian for the state Senate, where she was elected unanimously five times, serving for more than 10 years.
“It was a testament to the fair way that I carried out my duties,” Martin said. State Chairman Lawrence Tabas also reminded voters that Oct. 31 is not just Halloween but the last day to apply for a mail-in ballot. The election is Nov. 7.
“Of the new applications for mail-in ballots, 41 percent are Republican,” said Tabas. While the party did not embrace mail-in ballots in the past, “we have adopted it,” he said.
“I’m here to say bank the vote,” said Tabas. “That’s the key to our victory.”