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What Do PA’s Primary Results Portend for November?

Pennsylvania’s primary election is over. What do the results say about the general election in November?

Primary turnout was low, perhaps because both parties have already picked their presidential nominees. And both U.S. Senate candidates, incumbent Democrat Sen. Bob Casey and Republican challenger Dave McCormick, ran unopposed.

Only 22.5 percent of registered Democrats and Republicans voted in Delaware County, 15.69 percent in Montgomery County, 31.6 percent in Bucks County, and 22.96 percent in Chester County. Pennsylvania primaries are closed, meaning only voters registered with a party can participate.

Despite having dropped out of the GOP presidential primary after Super Tuesday, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley still received 150,000 votes — about 16 percent of the total — on Tuesday. But she did far better in the Delaware Valley, winning 18 percent of the vote in Bucks County, 22.87 in Delaware County, 24.22 percent in Chester County and 24.7 percent in Montgomery County.

And while President Joe Biden received a higher percentage of the total (92 percent) than Trump (83 percent), campaign pro Jeff Jubelirer says the numbers “don’t portend well for either candidate.”

Trump has to bring in “those Haley voters, particularly in southeastern Pennsylvania,” said Jubelirer, vice president at Bellevue Communications Group. And while the vote for “uncommitted” and U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips “wasn’t as impressive,” the race in Pennsylvania is likely to be so close in November that Biden needs to get them back, too. It won’t be easy.

“They’re particularly upset about the situation in the Middle East,” Jubelirer said.

Commonwealth Foundation Senior Fellow Guy Ciarrocchi, who has run for office as a Republican, agreed the candidates have to focus on their base, rather than count on pulling in swing voters.

“These two candidates will spend some time trying to persuade the three undecided voters in Pennsylvania,” he quipped. It’s going to be a contest to turn out the party’s base, “particularly with two people that have 100 percent name ID and 99 percent of Americans have made up their minds.”


Polls show Pennsylvania’s presidential race remains too close to call, and Republican strategists didn’t see anything Tuesday to change that calculus.

“There’s a significant shift now to the general election, so we should be careful not to extrapolate too much from primary results,” said Charlie Gerow with Quantum Communications. “I continue to be very bullish on the Trump campaign in Pennsylvania. He will win this pivotal state and the question is how much ‘down ballot’ effect that will have.”

Trump campaign spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt said, “Yesterday, President Trump continued his winning streak and delivered a resounding primary win in Pennsylvania. More importantly, President Trump continues to dominate Feeble Joe Biden in every battleground state poll including his home state. The Dishonest Biden campaign has spent millions in Pennsylvania gaslighting voters, but it is not enough to make everyone ignore Bidenflation and rising costs, Biden’s border bloodbath, and his war on American energy.”

And what about the other statewide elections? What do they say about the mood of the electorate?

Allegheny County resident Eugene DePasquale, the former auditor general, beat four candidates with ties to the Delaware Valley to become the Democratic Candidate for attorney general. He will face York County District Attorney Dave Sunday in November.

Jubelirer believes DePasquale benefited from his home county and that he had run statewide before.

“What did surprise me was Erin McClelland beating [Rep.] Ryan Bizzarro for treasurer,” he added. “Not a high-profile race, but Bizzarro had institutional support.”

Ciarrocchi credited geography and gender with McClelland’s surprise win.

“If I could go to central casting and run in a Pennsylvania primary, I would love Allegheny next to my name. So, that’s one and two, in a Democratic primary, if the race is between a man and a woman, put a nickel on the woman,” he said.

Bizzarro ran commercials against incumbent Treasurer Stacy Garrity, using abortion as an issue. Jubelirer believes Democrats will continue to use abortion as a cudgel against Republicans as long as it continues to work. Ciarrocchi agreed.

“I saw this almost two decades ago in Chester County around the issue of the Mariner Pipeline, in that when we started to see races for supervisor and school board where, when Chester County was a Republican county in the early 2000s, school board members would run for reelection, as Republicans. They would say, “I kept taxes down, and test scores are up,” said Ciarrocchi.

But, “environmental activists and some of the Democratic Party committee people that started to come forward as candidates and made the races about the pipelines and pipeline safety and clean water and clean air. And at first it seemed bizarre until it started to work.”

“The Democrats don’t have much else to run on,” Gerow said about abortion. They certainly can’t promote Biden. And their support on abortion is already baked in. Plus, there is going to be pushback against the radical ‘legal abortion for any reason, at any time, paid for by the taxpayers,’ which so many Democrats now support.”

Asked whether McCormick or Casey was happier with the primary results, Jubelirer said Casey while Ciarrocchi said McCormick.

McCormick might be harmed by the lack of enthusiasm of the Haley voters for Trump compared with the young, progressive Democrats for Biden, said Jubelirer.

“They’re not going to vote for Trump and McCormick, but they may not vote at all,” said Jubelirer.

McCormick “worked very hard since 2022 in losing by a hair… yeoman’s work of going to chicken dinners, listening to people and trying to be a leader and a healer. And all of that paid off last night, he ran unchallenged, which is very unique for such a major office,” said Ciarrocchi.

And Republicans are beginning to warm to using mail-in ballots, which will also help them, he said.

One potential bright spot for the Pennsylvania GOP, according to Gerow, is the left-wing politics of Democratic candidates like U.S. Rep. Summer Lee and the party’s nominee for auditor general, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta.

“Except for Eugene DePasquale, who is much more moderate, the Democrats nominated far-left candidates. Additionally, they are not people with backgrounds or credentials for the office they’re seeking. For example, Kenyatta, who’s now their candidate for auditor general, has never audited anything bigger than his own checkbook. His entire background has been promoting far-leftist ideology, not much more.”


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Five Dems Are Vying For AG Nomination in Primary

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office is often a stepping stone to the governor’s mansion. Perhaps that’s why so many Democrats want to follow in Gov. Josh Shapiro’s footsteps.

Four of the five Democrats running to fill the vacancy created when then-Attorney General Shapiro was elected governor hail from the Delaware Valley: Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer, former Bucks County Solicitor Joe Khan, former chief public defender for Philadelphia Keir Bradford-Grey, and Rep. Jared Solomon (D-Philadelphia).

Pittsburgh Democrat and former two-term Auditor General Eugene DePasquale is also running.

Keir Bradford-Grey

Shapiro appointed Keir Bradford-Grey as chief public defender for Montgomery County. She was later hired to serve as chief defender of the Defender Association of Philadelphia, the state’s largest. She claims to have reformed the office while overseeing a staff of 500 and managing a $50 million budget, according to her website.

She used “a data-driven approach” to make changes in the office to “lay the foundation for effective criminal justice reform.”

During a March 12 debate on ABC 27, Bradford-Grey was asked why Pennsylvanians should vote for her to be attorney general when she’s been a public defender.

“I’m running to be the people’s lawyer,” she said. “And that’s what the attorney general is in every other state other than Pennsylvania. It is the one that protects people at their most basic need. And it makes sure that not only do we take on the people that are harming people on the street corners, but we go after people in the board room…And I have the opportunity to make sure that women have very protected rights in their reproductive systems…no one can fight for women better than a woman.”

DePasquale is a former state legislator and served two-terms as state auditor general.

Eugene DePasquale

In the same debate, DePasquale was asked about being “a professional office seeker.”

“I’ve run statewide twice, and I’ve won twice,” said DePasquale. “I’ve won once when Trump was on the ballot. Why was I able to win? Because people know my record of fighting for Pennsylvania. My investigation found over 300,000 untested rape kits. Working hard, I brought justice to victims.”

Now in private practice, Khan served as Bucks County solicitor. He’s also been an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia and a federal prosecutor and has represented municipal, county, and state governments. Khan is the brother of state Rep. Tarik Khan (D-Philadelphia).

Khan lost a primary in 2017 to Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, and during the debate, he was asked about his electability.

“This isn’t about just winning the Democratic primary but winning the general election,” said Khan. “And this is a really, really tough election for Democrats to win.” Only two Democrats have ever won the attorney general’s race, he said. “Because they have painted the Democratic nominee as being soft on crime.” But before becoming the Bucks County solicitor, Khan said, he was a “career prosecutor.”

Joe Khan

Solomon worked in private practice, then joined the Army Reserves as a JAG officer and currently serves in the Pennsylvania National Guard. He was elected to the state House in 2016, beating a 42-year incumbent.

Solomon, who is running for both offices simultaneously, was told the “good government activists say ‘run for one.'”

“I protected us from Trump Republicans who are threatening our abortion and voting rights,” said Solomon. “I want to be your next attorney general because I want to protect our fundamental rights.”

Stollsteimer has twice been elected district attorney for Delaware County. He was hired as an assistant district attorney in 2000 before becoming a policy analyst and special assistant U.S. attorney for the Project Safe Neighborhoods gun violence initiative in 2001. In 2004, he was appointed assistant U.S. attorney and assigned to lead a gun violence task force.

Rep. Jared Solomon

Both Stollsteimer and Solomon are up on the air with TV ads.

Solomon touts his “A” grade with Planned Parenthood and “F” ranking from the National Rifle Association. Stollsteimer’s ads feature the tagline “You don’t know Jack” and emphasize his record as a DA who brought down crime in the City of Chester.

During the debate, Stollsteimer was asked what he would say to voters who think reducing the prison population by 30 percent is dangerous.

“Anybody who would say that would be completely wrong,” said Stollsteimer, who said they are balancing criminal justice reform with public safety. Delaware County had the only privately run prison in the state when he was elected, and he led the effort to de-privatize it. They’ve reduced the prison population by 40 percent “by keeping low-level offenders out of the criminal justice system and giving the help they need for redemption,” he said.

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer

Bruce L. Castor Jr., former Montgomery County district attorney, who served as acting attorney general after Democrat Kathleen Kane was convicted for perjury, agreed the Attorney General’s Office often leads to the governorship in Pennsylvania.

“A reputed centrist candidate from the southeast in either party gives that party a huge leg up in eventually the run for governor.  We have always known this. So, the focus now by statewide political leaders on both sides is on who they are hoping to maneuver to run for governor six years from now,” said Castor. “So, what ‘matters’ is which candidate has the credentials (prosecutor experience both appointed and elected) to be elected attorney general now, has won elections at least at the ‘county’ level from the southeast, where 40 percent of the people live.”

“Naturally, I am a Republican and want Republicans to win,” said Castor. “Looking at all the candidates objectively, however, I see DA Jack Stollsteimer as best at checking off all the boxes.

“If I was analyzing the long-term prospects for the two parties through the “AG” – ‘Almost Governor’ – lens, he’s who I see as best positioned.”

Whichever of these five gets the nod from Democratic primary voters on April 23 will face one of the two Republican candidates in the fall:  Dave Sunday or Rep. Craig Williams.


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