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Democrats Sweep DelVal County Elections, Retain State Supreme Court Seat

Democrats kept their hold on Delaware Valley county politics, sweeping local elections Tuesday and contributing to a good night for their party across the commonwealth. And voters elected Judge Daniel McCaffrey, also a Democrat, to fill a vacancy on the state’s Supreme Court.

The Republicans in Bucks, Montgomery, and Delaware Counties ran on the issue of public safety, pointing out that crime is increasing in the suburbs. But that issue did not convince voters. In Chester County, Republicans attempted to use the escape and two-week manhunt of convicted murderer Danilo Cavalcante to tar Democrats in charge of the county as incompetent.

In Bucks County, incumbent Democratic Commissioners Bob Harvie and Diane Ellis-Marseglia were challenged by incumbent Republican Gene DiGirolamo and Controller Pam Van Blunk.

With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, Ellis-Marseglia was ahead at 27.67 percent, followed by Harvie at 25.53 percent. DiGirolamo had 24.01 percent and Van Blunk garnered 22.74 percent.

In Chester County, Democratic incumbent Commissioners Josh Maxwell and Moskowitz faced Republicans Eric Roe and David Sommers. With all precincts reporting in, Maxwell and Moskowitz were each ahead at 28.33 and 27.75 percent, respectively.  While Roe was ahead of Sommers at 23.02 percent to 20.86 percent for the minority board seat.

In Delaware County, three incumbent Democrat Council Members, Monica Taylor, Ph.D., Elaine Paul Schaeffer and Christine Reuther, were challenged by GOP candidates Joy Schwartz, Jeff Jones and Bill Dennon, the Upland Borough mayor. With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, the Democrats retained their seats on the five-person council. And incumbent DA Jack Stollsteimer bested Republican challenger  Beth Stefanide-Miscichowski.

Chester will also have a new mayor. Democrat City Councilman Stefan Roots bested Independent Anita J. Littlejohn. Roots defeated outgoing Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland in the Democratic primary earlier this year.

Judge Carolyn Carluccio with her husband, Tom Carluccio and son, Joseph, walk to the Wissahickon Valley Library in Skippack to vote.

In Montgomery County, incumbent Commissioner Jamila Winder and candidate Neil Makhija, both Democrats, bested Republicans Liz Ferry and Tom DiBello. With all votes counted, DiBello was ahead of Ferry by 85,934 votes to 83,811 for the seat reserved for the minority commissioner.

In Philadelphia, where her party holds a 7-1 voter registration advantage, Democrat Cherelle Parker easily defeated David Oh to become the first Black woman mayor of the city. And Republicans appear to have lost one of their two remaining City Council seats to the leftwing populist Working Families Party. The only GOP holdout was Councilman Brian O’Neill who won re-election to the 10th District.

Statewide, the marquee race was for an opening on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  Republican Judge Carolyn Carluccio, president judge for Montgomery County, lost to Superior Court Judge Dan McCaffrey.

A relentless spate of negative television commercials pummeled voters in the weeks leading up to Election Day, along with internet ads and mailings. The race was pricy, too.  About $17 million was spent, with outside groups including unions, lawyers, and others pumping in cash. Democrats made abortion, an issue that worked for them in 2022, again the centerpiece of their argument.

Charlie Gerow, a GOP consultant with Quantum Communications, said, “The results of the Supreme Court race are especially troubling. Not winning that seat means that Democrats will likely control that Court for the rest of my life. Equally troubling were the at -large Council seats in Philadelphia that Republicans failed to win. The system was not designed to have no GOP representation, but that is what we have for the first time in modern history.”

“One bright spot was the re-election of Steve Zappala (for district attorney) in Allegheny County who won as a Republican over a Larry Krasner style Democrat,” Gerow added.

Carluccio sent this concession statement: “I just spoke with Judge McCaffery.  The people have spoken, and while the outcome was not what we hoped for, the democratic process has once again prevailed. I want to express my deepest gratitude to my supporters for your time and your belief in our vision for a fair and impartial judiciary.

I congratulate my opponent on his victory and wish him the wisdom and strength to uphold the great responsibility that comes with serving on our State Supreme Court. It is my hope that he will serve the interests of justice and the well-being of all Pennsylvanians at heart.

To all who have stood by me, know that our efforts have not been in vain. We have sparked important conversations and advocated for the values we hold dear. I remain committed to serving our community and upholding the rule of law as President Judge of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas.”

McCaffrey’s win will bring the high court back to a 5-2 Democratic majority.

Delaware Valley Election Preview

Voters in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties head to the polls on Tuesday to decide several races across the Delaware Valley.

A Montgomery County judge, Republican Carolyn Carluccio, is in the most high-profile race in the state. She is facing Democrat Dan McCaffery for a seat on the state Supreme Court. Carluccio is president judge on Montgomery County’s Court of Common Pleas. McCaffery, a Philadelphian, sits on the state Superior Court. The pair are vying for an opening left by last year’s death of Chief Justice Max Baer.

Around $22 million has been spent on the Carluccio-McCaffery race. That includes donations from labor groups, the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association’s political action committee, and the Commonwealth Leaders Fund. Despite the spending, a recent Franklin & Marshall Poll found that 7 in 10 registered voters don’t have an opinion on either Carluccio or McCaffery.

Democrats would remain in control of the court if Carluccio would be elected, but it would be a slim 4-3 majority. Should McCaffery win, the court would keep its 5-2 Democrat majority.

Other statewide elections include the Superior Court judge race featuring Democrats Jill Beck and Timika Lane and Republicans Harry F. Smail Jr. and Maria Battista. There is also the Commonwealth Court race between Republican Megan Martin and Democrat Matt Wolf.

Voters in all the counties are electing Common Pleas judges and nominees for various row offices.

Delaware County voters will decide a variety of important races. Three seats on the county council are up for grabs, including those currently held by three Democrats: Chair Monica Taylor, Ph.D., Vice Chair Elaine Paul Schaefer, and Christine A. Ruther. They are being challenged by Republicans Joy Schwartz, Jeffrey O. Jones, and Upland Borough Mayor William Dennon.

Republican attorney Beth Stefanide-Miscichowski has made concerns about rising crime the centerpiece of her race against incumbent Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer, a Democrat.

The fiscally-flailing City of Chester is almost certain to get its first new mayor in seven years. City Councilman Stefan Roots defeated incumbent Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland in the Democratic primary in May. Roots will face independent Anita J. Littleton.

Polls open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday and close at 8 p.m. To see a sample ballot, click here.

Bucks County elections have been peppered with controversy, including Democratic candidates putting the name of popular Republican District Attorney Matt Weintraub on their own campaign signs — without his permission.

“I was disappointed to learn that my name has been used by the Marseglia-Harvie campaign without my authorization or permission,” Weintraub, who’s running for Common Pleas judge, told DVJournal.

That would be Bucks County Commissioners Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia and fellow Democrat County Commission Board Chair Robert Harvie Jr., who are seeking second terms in office. Pamela A. Van Blunk, currently serving as Bucks County Controller, is running as a team with Republican Gene DiGirolamo, who is seeking a second term. Van Blunk and DiGirolamo have also made rising crime the centerpiece of their campaign.

There are also multiple races for the Central Bucks School District board, as well as other school boards across the DelVal. School District 1 voters will be picking between Democratic incumbent Karen Smith and Republican challenger Dr. Stephen Mass. District 2 features incumbent Republican Dana Hunter, the current school board president, against Democrat Heather Reynolds. In District 3, it’s Democrat Dana Foley against Republican Glenn Schloeffel. District 6 is a race between Republican Aarati P. Martino and Democrat Rick Haring. District 8 features Democrat Susan M. Gibson against Tony Arjona.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Sample ballots can be accessed here.

Montgomery County will see a major change in its leadership with the election of two new commissioners to the three-seat board. Jamila Winder, who was appointed to fill out the remainder of Val Arkoosh’s term, is running for election as a Democrat. Lawyer Neil Makhija, who ran for state representative in Carbon County in 2016, is running as a Democrat. Republicans Thomas DiBello, a businessman, and Liz Ferry, an Upper Dublin commissioner, are also seeking voters’ approval.

Other major contests include the sheriff’s race between Democratic incumbent Sean P. Kilkenny and Republican Ed Moye.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Sample ballots can be found here. People looking to see if they can vote in the election can get more information here.

Chester County’s polls are open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.

A referendum expanding the Honey Brook Township Board of Supervisors from three to five is creating local buzz.

There will also be a new District Attorney in Chester County. Ryan L. Hyde is running as a Republican against Democrat Christopher de Barrena-Sarobe.

There could also be turnover on the County Board of Commissioners. Incumbent Democrats Josh Maxwell and Marian Moskowitz are running for re-election. They are facing Republicans David C. Sommers and Eric Roe. The Democrats, who became the first Democratic majority to run the county in 2019, tout their record of inclusivity, affordable housing, and the environment. But the Republicans point to the escape of convicted murderer Danilo Cavalcante from the county prison despite a previous escape by an inmate using the same method, as a reason to question Maxwell and Moskowitz’s competency. Both serve on the Prison Board, along with Sheriff Fredda Maddox, also a Democrat. who is running for Common Pleas Judge. Her Chief Deputy Kevin Dykes, a Democrat, is being challenged by former sheriff’s deputy Republican Roy Kofroth.

A sample ballot can be found here.