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Gym, Gale Both Go Down to Surprising Defeats in Tuesday Primary

They are polar opposites politically, but they shared the same fate Tuesday night.

Progressive Philadelphia city councilor Helen Gym and Montco MAGA Republican Joe Gale were both defeated in Tuesday’s primaries, and both outcomes were viewed as surprising by political insiders.

In Philly’s Democratic primary for mayor, Gym had a narrow lead in the latest polls and the support of celebrity pols Sen. Bernie Sanders and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. But she finished in third place with about 20 percent of the vote, well behind the victorious Cherelle Parker at 33 percent.

Parker, a former state representative and councilwoman, ran as a centrist Democrat. A Philadelphia native who campaigned on improving schools and public safety, Parker supports hiring more police and bringing back “stop and frisk” in the fight against crime.

“Under a Parker administration, every legal tool available, every constitutional tool available to our Police Department will be employed to ensure that we end this sense of lawlessness,” Parker said during the campaign.

In Montgomery County, incumbent GOP county commissioner and political firebrand Joe Gale was soundly defeated in his party’s primary, losing to both Liz Ferry and Tom DiBello. Both were endorsed by the Montco GOP, while Gale chose not to seek the party’s endorsement.

Gale, who was seeking his third term, did not respond to requests for comment.

“Last night was a great night for Montgomery County and the GOP,” said Republican Party Chairman Christian Nascimento. “Liz Ferry and Tom DiBello ran a hard, positive race that resonated with voters, and were able to overcome all the ridiculous negativity that was thrown at them.

“For the first time in over 10 years we will have a unified Republican ticket running for both seats on the County commission board. The hard work begins now, but I am so proud of how the party unified and came together to help get them across the line. This is a new day for the Montco GOP, and the first step towards returning Montgomery County to the example of responsible government that it once was.”

On the Democratic side, incumbent Jamila Winder (who was appointed in February to replace Val Arkoosh) and lawyer Neil Makhija beat out three others and will appear on the November ballots.

Likewise in Bucks County, endorsed GOP candidates Gene DiGirolamo, the incumbent, and Pamela Van Blunk beat unendorsed candidate Andrew Warren.  DiGirolamo and Van Blunk will appear on the November ballot running against Democrat incumbent commissioners Bob Harvie and Diane Ellis-Marseglia in the general election.

“We won big,” said Bucks GOP Chair Pat Poprik. “We had excellent candidates. We really did. And now for the fall, we have very strong candidates.”

In the statewide judicial races, Mongomery County President Judge Carolyn Carluccio will be the Republican nominee for Supreme Court justice, squaring off against Philadelphian Dan McCaffery, the Democratic nominee this fall.

Democrats comprise a 4-2 majority on the state’s high court, with the death of Chief Justice Max Baer last fall leaving the vacant seat.

And Megan Martin, a Delaware County native, who became the state Senate’s first secretary-parliamentarian, and Philadelphia Democrat Matt Wolf won their primaries and will contest for a seat on the Commonwealth Court.

Democrats Jill Beck, of Allegheny County and Philadelphian Tamika Lane will be on the ballot for two open seats in Superior Court, running against Republicans Maria Battista of Clarion County and Westmoreland County Common Pleas Judge Harry Smail Jr.

“Our entire endorsed slate of judicial candidates have won the Republican nominations for their respective races in November, and I couldn’t be happier about this team’s upcoming victories in the general,” said Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Lawrence Tabas. “From the beginning, we knew that these candidates would deliver wins in November and we are extremely happy the Republican electorate agreed with us.

“These four candidates will rule on the law as written and always uphold the Constitutions of Pennsylvania and the United States.”

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Eight Contenders Run for Montgomery County Commissioner in May

Three Republicans and five Democrats will be on the primary election ballot on May 16, seeking two slots for each party for the November race to fill the three-seat Montgomery County Commissioners Board.

With Democrat Jamila Winder as the only endorsed incumbent in the race, the contest for commissioner is more competitive than it has been for years.

Commissioner Kenneth Lawrence, Jr. is not seeking another term. Republicans Liz Ferry and Tom DiBello gained their party’s endorsement. Republican incumbent Commissioner Joe Gale, who portrays himself as an outsider, did not seek it.

Locally the GOP is operating at a significant voter deficit, with 202,880 registered Republicans to 301,156 Democrats. Voter rolls show 95,653 registered independents or those belonging to other parties.

It is those independent voters that Ferry believes Republicans can sway. She argued Democrats have drifted too far to the left to appeal to most residents.

Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale

“We care about things the normal, working residents of Montgomery County care about,” Ferry told DVJournal.

Ferry is an Upper Dublin Township commissioner, the only Republican on a seven-member board there.

“I’ve been able to get things done,” said Ferry. “That’s my objection to Joe Gale. After seven years, besides voting no, he has no accomplishments. And I’ve been able to get no tax increases budgets passed, reduce expenditures and find innovative ways of doing things. And I think that’s what we need.”

Montgomery County taxes have increased 8 percent this year, 8 percent the previous year, and 5 percent the year before that.

“And again, nobody’s doing the homework to say what’s going on, why costs are increasing, and what can we do not to raise taxes on residents who already are feeling the effects of all the things that happened in the last couple of years, with the pandemic and now inflation,” Ferry said.

DiBello holds a master’s degree in information systems, has worked for large companies, and has owned a small business. He served as Limerick Township auditor from 2006 to 2014 and on the Limerick Board of Supervisors from 2002 to 2004, as well as on the Spring-Ford School Board from 2009 through 2021, where he was president five times.

He described himself as “very involved in the community.”

“Crime is rising throughout the county, carjackings, murders,” DiBello said. “I felt with my background and experience; it was time for me to run for county commissioner and focus on getting the county on the right track again.”

DiBello noted he would be a full-time commissioner and not have another job. He said he would address issues of election integrity, such as ballot-box stuffing, that have arisen in the past few elections. He plans to support military veterans and service members and work to address homelessness in the county.

Echoing DiBello’s remarks about crime, Ferry argued current commissioners had approved a “matrix” to reduce bail so that criminals charged with a crime are released rather than waiting in jail until their trials.

“It’s a more sophisticated version of what Larry Krasner is doing in Philadelphia,” said Ferry. “Bad apples are committing crimes on our communities and then immediately getting out and doing it again.”

Incumbent Joe Gale, meanwhile, said he has consistently voted against tax increases. He also voted against the recent 12 percent increase for commissioners’ salaries and pledged to refuse that pay increase.

First elected in 2015, Gale said he had been a watchdog for the county taxpayers during his tenure as a minority member. He claimed Ferry and DiBello had voted to increase taxes during their time in public office.

Commissioner Jamila Winder

In addition to Winder, Democrats running are Tanya Bamford, Kimberly Koch, Neil Makhija, and Noah Marlier.

Bamford is a Montgomery Township supervisor. Koch is a Whitpain Township supervisor. Makhija is an attorney and executive director for Impact, an Indian American civic organization. And Marlier is the county prothonotary.

Ferry argued that whoever is elected should be singularly focused on the commissioner’s job.

“We need a person who does not plan to run for other offices” and will be devoted to running the county well, she said.

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