The Worst Primary Night for PA Progressives in Recent Memory

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A longer post on The True Meaning of the Election is forthcoming at Philly Mag, but here’s a quick wrap-up post. On balance, with the exception of the Wolf win, God damn that was a dark election night! If I hadn’t won my committeeperson race, I’d be a lot more bummed out this morning. Let’s go through the sample ballot of our recommendations.


Tom Wolf – WON. Awesome. #wolfpack

Lieutenant Governor

Lt-Gov: Brad Koplinski (first best) or Mike Stack (if your top priority is blocking Critz) LOST. But Critz got blocked, so the disappointment level is medium.

US House

Get ready to hate having an all-male delegation to Congress. 

PA-12: Erin McClelland

WIN. But very, very tough race to win in the general. 

PA-13: Daylin Leach

LOST. The worst candidate, Brendan Boyle, won. 

PA-8: Shaughnessy Naughton

LOST. This one was very close. Naughton’s background spoke more to my interests, but Kevin Strouse is a really good guy, and we’re ready to support him whole-heartedly.

State Senate

SD-02: Tomas Sánchez

LOST. Tartaglione crushed everyone.

SD-04: Brian Gralnick

LOST. Indicted Senator LeAnna Washington reelected. I hate everything. Art Haywood won. Medium disappointment.

General Assembly

HD-20: Tom Michalow

LOST. Ravenstahl isn’t the worst, just wanted to see the Peduto team expand their power.

HD-22: Tatiana Tooley

LOST. Peter Schweyer is a really great guy though. I liked both about equally, and he’ll be a good rep.

HD-36: Erin Molchany

LOST. This is the most depressing thing ever. Erin Molchany was one of my very most favorite reps. I’m sure she’ll do other great work in politics, but I was looking forward to seeing her get more power in the caucus. Harry Readshaw is the fucking worst guy, but he’s super old so he probably won’t be in there much longer.

HD-74: Josh Maxwell

WON. Great young leader with a bright future in the party.

HD-164: Billy Smith

LOST. The second most depressing thing this morning. Margo Davidson is legitimately conservative on a number of issues. This district can do so much better.

HD-179: Jason Dawkins

WON. This is awesome. Jason was the only one of the Maria Quinones-Sanchez-backed candidates to win, and one of the only primary challengers to beat an incumbent (James Clay) last night. I haven’t met him yet, but I hear he is an amazing guy, and I’m psyched to see what he does for Frankford in Harrisburg.

HD-180: Quetcy Lozada

LOST. Total bastard Angel Cruz reelected.

HD-197: Danilo Burgos


Philadelphia ballot questions

1. Living wage for subcontractors: Yes, subcontracting should not provide an end-run around the city’s living wage policies.

WON. Excellent.

2. End “resign to run”: Yes, we need to make it easier for sitting politicians to challenge others. This will lead to more competitive politics in Philly.

LOST. A win for uncompetitive Philly politics.

3. Takes power from Mayor, gives it to City Council, to approve short-term contracts for public defenders: No, Council already micromanages too many processes that should be in the Executive branch

WON. Council micromanagement duties expanded.

This entry was posted in Elections, Governor, State House, State Senate, US House.

28 Responses to The Worst Primary Night for PA Progressives in Recent Memory

  1. bramr101 says:

    That’s the boom / bust business cycle. But to avoid topping out around this general status quo, progressives are going to have to invest deeply in governmental achievement where they do wield control, before exerting political leaderahip far outside their cities and towns. A view from Pittsburgh.

  2. Sam the Butcher says:

    Forgot to mention, Jon Geeting, LOST!! Future candidates for office would be wise to run as far away from him as possible.

  3. DelcoReformer says:

    Correction: Leanna Washington was not reelected. She lost to Art Haywood. So, at least she’s out.

  4. James says:

    Actually, Leanna Washington lost. Art Haywood won in SD-4. MontCo provided the margin of victory.

  5. Sean Kitchen says:

    At least Jesse White won his fight. We need all the people we can get in the House to stand up against the natural gas industry.

    • Jay says:

      Perhaps you would feel differently if he called your mother a “whore” or if the murder victim whose picture and name he used as one of his many aliases was somebody you care about.

  6. Tsuyoshi says:

    Bummer about the 13th. Looking at the county-level results, Leach did OK (but still didn’t win) in Montgomery County. Boyle’s advantage came entirely from Philadelphia, where he basically shut everyone else out. Under different circumstances (fewer candidates running, in a presidential year) he could easily have lost. Given how it all turned out, I have to say that I wish Schwartz didn’t run for governor.

    A mildly interesting thing I noticed about the Governor results was that Schwartz almost won Montgomery, and did pretty decently in Philadelphia. She did somewhat less well in Delaware and Bucks. Wolf and (and McCord) seemed to do best everywhere else. I am not sure what to conclude from all this.

    Anecdotally, everyone I know in my neighborhood was for Schwartz, but none of them even knew the election was that day. GOTV fail!

    • Jared says:

      There is some potentially useful news here. The reason Boyle did so well was because he had the Philadelphia party infrastructure backing him. If we get more people like Jon into the City Committee, we can start making the Philadelphia party infrastructure back the progressives we want.

      • phillydem says:

        It shouldn’t be a surprise that Phila Democrats supported one of their own, but believing if only the right people were in charge the outcome would have been different is naive.

        I lived in the district abutting Boyle’s and remember when he was just beginning his political career. The Boyles had a plan and stuck to it. They made a point to move into and become permanent, involved residents there starting in 2003 or 2004, if not earlier. He knocked on a lot of doors, too, to introduce himself. Boyle kept at it despite losing the first go ’round. He’s a good fit with his socially conservative Phila constituents. I’d say Boyle’s win was more a result of his diligent work to establish himself in his state house district and the fact that the MontCo vote was split three ways.

  7. Gloria McVeigh says:

    Jon, I was sorry to see you backing Tatiana Tooley for HD-22. Yes, she’s a woman + Latina, and god knows we need many more Dems in both categories. But I backed Peter Schweyer, who’s more than a “good guy.” Peter has a long, credible reputation as a progressive, going back to his work with Jenn Mann — a strong, mainstream progressive when we were still calling ourselves “liberals.”
    Peter has been a consistent voice for mainstream progressive politics on Allentown City Council, at a time when that’s meant being targeted by extremists at both ends of the political spectrum. His day job is Director of Community and Government Affairs for Sacred Heart, the only remaining “community” hospital in the Lehigh Valley, unaffiliated with either of the two LV mega hospital chains, determined to serve the local, largely-Latino community. Peter’s long-standing political + community network made it possible for Sacred Heart to be part of Allentown’s NIZ + gain the tax breaks needed to restore its facilities serving the local community.
    In our rush to embrace current efforts to open Democratic doors to women + minorities, it’s foolhardy to push aside Democrats who’ve been doing the right thing all along. And let’s not pretend we don’t all benefit from politicians’ dedicated relationship building.

  8. I’m very disappointed the third ballot measure passed. It is a completely unnecessary distraction for Council, and it was a question, in my humble opinion, the public at large is not capable of answering intelligently.

  9. Jules Mermelstein says:

    Progressives need to do something in the 13th. I suggest we write-in (or get petitions to get her name on the ballot as an independent) Allyson Schwartz.

    • Sean Kitchen says:

      PA doesn’t allow sore-losers to run.

    • Ryan says:

      This is a hilariously bad idea.

      • Jules Mermelstein says:

        Why is this so “hilariously” bad? I’ve spoken to other people, including current and former Democratic elected officials who think it is a good idea. Is there any doubt that if voters in the 13th were faced with a ballot of Adcock (R), Boyle (D), and Schwartz (I), that Schwartz would win?

  10. David Diano says:

    VoterWeb rocks!

  11. John S says:

    I’m new to Keystone Politics since earlier this year. I enjoy it very much and it’s refreshing to read Jon’s posts that in my opinion are an accurate representation of the majority of Democratic voters in Pennsylvania. I think McCord is the biggest loser of the primary campaign. While in my opinion there are many reasons why McCord lost, here is my analysis of the McCord campaign…

    The unfavorable ratings revealed in the recent polls leading up to the primary election told a fascinating story, one that I believe will forever haunt the unsuccessful McCord campaign.
    McCord had the highest unfavorable rating than any other candidate, including Schwartz and yet he was still considered relatively unknown to voters especially compared to his opponents. That means, McCord was less known and less liked; an insurmountable disadvantage. Post-election analysis will harshly criticize the McCord campaign strategy, and become a “what not to do” for future candidates, at least in Pennsylvania. McCord failed to introduce himself to the state and he never developed a resonating message other than, “don’t vote for him, vote for me.” The nail in the coffin for McCord was unapologetically and viciously going negative, even when electeds, party leaders and organizations like Fact Check called him out on it; McCord continued to engage in what many consider divisive and dirty politics. His racially charged attack ads were baseless and unfounded, not to mention declared false by Fact Check; McCord’s ad was similar to when Republicans went after Obama with the same guilt-by-association style attacks regarding his association with Jeremiah Wright. McCord came off as pompous and arrogant during the debates; at times even erratic and uncontrolled; not like someone who can get things done or even someone you’d want to have a beer with. Ultimately he didn’t connect and simply wasn’t liked by Pennsylvanians. In the last week of the campaign McCord’s number were headed in the wrong direction. Democrats responded with their votes, or in this case, lack thereof for McCord. I think McCord is the biggest loser of the primary campaign; having severely tarnished his image, as well as seriously damaged his ability to ever seek statewide office in the future.

  12. Ryan Goodwin says:

    While I agree with the title of this post, it wasn’t a good night for progressives. I do find fault with the PA13 portion.

    Boyle was far from the worst candidate. If you can honestly say after watching the debates that Boyle is worse than Margolies, you’re lying to yourself. The woman was a puppet for Smuckler, had no original thoughts, and struggled with coherent answers about softball policy questions. If ever there was a person looking for a paycheck/pension, it was Marjorie. (Not even talking about the half assed campaign she ran as an indication of her work ethic.)

    It comes off as sour grapes because Leach performed poorly. This shouldn’t be an indictment of Boyle or progressives in the area. It seems like some of the writers on here don’t have a familiarity with the district, which Boyle will represent well.

    I’m not going to cast judgement on a representative actually REPRESENTING his constituency.

    Would I like to see a true progressive in the seat, yes. But let’s just hope that Boyle has truly evolved in his new pro-choice stance, and it wasn’t just political gamesmanship.

    • phillydem says:

      Boyle’s constituents in the far NE Phila are generally conservative “Casey Democrats” and he is representative of them. Had there been only 1 candidate from MontCo, he might not have won, but that wasn’t the case.

      • Ryan Goodwin says:

        I agree, it would have been a lot more interesting. I still think his ground game was the most impressive of any candidate, which could have still lead him to victory.

        Also, someone mentioned Mark Cohen vs. Jared Solomon. That’s a much worse lost for progressives and all democrats for that matter. Cohen is a leech and an embarrassment to the party. If the progressive blogs would have paid half as much attention to that race as they did to bashing Boyle, maybe we would have someone else representing that district.

        I know the congressional races are sexier and get more clicks, but Cohen was beatable. Leach never stood a chance.

        Otherwise, I really enjoyed the election coverage from most of the authors of this blog.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      That’s fair. What I meant here is that Margolies and Boyle were about equally bad because of whose power they’ll extend in Washington, and more importantly, locally – the Brady/Johnny Doc faction of the party. I wanted to see someone like Daylin or Arkoosh win, who could create a new power base to eventually supplant that group. Now we basically have two Bradys.

      • Ryan Goodwin says:

        Hard to disagree.

        The irony of Boyle is that he once was an outcast from the “machine” and this race forced him to cozy up. At one point and time I admired him for bucking the system.

        But hey, I guess he did what he had to do. Hopefully their pockets have a nice velvet lining.

  13. Karen Bojar says:

    Rather than seeing it as the worst night for progressives, there is a real case to be made that the glass is half-full. Many good candidates lose their first run for office. The first run raises their profile and gives them an opportunity to develop their skills as campaigners. Young progressives like Brian Gralnick, Jared Solomon, Billy Smith and Emily Rodriguez (among others) will in all probability run for public office again–and win.

    And we need to support them—even if we expect they probably won’t win the first time. I knew that Brian Gralnick was a long shot in my senatorial district, but when there is a young progressive candidate, with Brian’s intellect, knowledge of issues, commitment to public service, I want to support him as an investment in the future. Actually, given that he had no backing from elected officials (other than 9th ward committeepeople), he did quite well for a newcomer.

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