Let’s eschew the national sturm und drang for a week and focus on an embarrassment of riches from both sides of this week’s primaries across the street. We’re not going to spend too much time on the biggest winners and losers – odds are, you already know about Larry Krasner crushing the Philly Democratic DA primary and Rebecca Rhynhart romping through the Philly Democratic controller primary against three-time incumbent Alan Butkovitz, and you’ve no doubt read plenty about the failure of the traditional power structure in Philadelphia’s wards to deliver votes as predicted. So let’s explore some of the less-reported winners and losers from across the state.
Lowered expectations: How else to explain trumpeting a 19 percent turnout in Philadelphia as a relative success? Considering that this Election Day featured competitive Democratic primaries for DA and controller in a heavily Democratic city fired up by anti-Trump activism, it’s an impressive feat.
The media: There was no lack of storylines to choose from this time around, from mayors running under a cloud of federal investigation to the continued progressive arc of Philly’s DA primary to the unprecedented influx of super PACs – which made plenty of sales teams happy, thanks to the profusion of ad buys by flush candidates and outside groups. Speaking of which …
Outside money: The $1.45 million infusion by Hungarian-American billionaire into a super PAC dedicated to getting Krasner elected and the $250,000 spent by a super PAC with ties to IBEW Local 98 that supported fellow DA candidate Jack O’Neill sucked up most of the oxygen in the room, but it was a banner year for all groups looking to back candidates without having to hew to Philadelphia campaign contribution limits – and the candidates who loved and needed them.
Incumbent mayors: Across the state, almost without exception, incumbents like Pittsburgh’s Bill Peduto, Allentown’s Ed Pawlowski, Harrisburg’s Eric Papenfuse and York’s Kim Bracey won their primaries.
Cross-filers: It’s a small step, to be sure, but Delaware County voters rejecting candidates who ran on both the Republican and Democratic tickets – legally, mind you – is a step in the right direction, and is a welcome prelude to reopening the argument that the commonwealth should either have open primaries or do away with this hedge.
Philly DA candidates: This has already been covered, and covered well, but still deserves mention. Whether they left high-powered positions in the public sector or invested more than a million dollars in their own losing effort, there are six people wondering what’s next.
Low bidders: Thanks to the success of a ballot measure amending the Philadelphia City Charter to allow accepting “best value” bids instead of the lowest bid, the entire procurement process will be going through a welcome paradigm shift.
The establishment: While the signs of a motivated electorate were seen and heard most clearly in the Philadelphia primary, voters took to the polls across the state to vote against business-as-usual politicians, most notably in Scranton, where questions about the sale of the city’s sewer authority continue to outpace answers and the politicians who have obfuscated found themselves out of a job.