The 18 percent of registered voters that turned out to participate in Tuesday’s primary certainly had an outsized impact on both the political landscape heading into the general election in November and the storylines to follow over the next six months. And while there is no shortage of questions and prognostications, there is also precious little grey area to fight through a winner-take-all event can be a brutally clarifying event, as both the winners and losers can attest to in the electoral aftermath.
Women: The primary results proved out that female candidates will continue to be a force to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future, most prominently at the national level. Unless something catastrophic happens, the state will get off of its four-year schneid of failing to elect a Congresswoman, thanks to no fewer than eight women winning their Congressional primaries.
Democratic Socialists of America: For those old enough to remember when being labeled a socialist was the kiss of death for any kind of career, much less a future in American politics, the party’s showing on Tuesday was nothing short of stunning. For those young enough to not see the socialist label as pejorative, the performance was no less impressive. Summer Lee, Sara Innamorato and Elizabeth Fiedler won their Democratic primaries for state House seats against both stiff competition and the Democratic establishment, and all three are in prime position to go to Harrisburg in January.
Trumpism: With the notable exception of moderate incumbent Brian Fitzpatrick’s win, the GOP candidates who triumphed on Tuesday, including US senatorial candidate Lou Barletta, gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner, and state senator candidate Jeremy Shaffer, did so based on identifying in as many ways as possible with President Donald Trump.
Philly power brokers: John Dougherty, the mahoff behind International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98, went 1-for-4 on Tuesday, losing big when his pick for the Democratic nod for PA-5, former Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Rich Lazer; his candidate for the Democratic nomination in the state House’s 184th District, Jonathan Rowan; and his candidate in the 177th state House District, Sean Kilkenny, all went down to defeat. Dougherty did support Madeleine Dean in her successful bid for the PA-4 Democratic primary. Dougherty had some prestigious company in the L column: Marian Tasco’s Northwest Coalition once again failed to dislodge state Rep. Chris Rabb from the 200th state House seat. Special shout-out to US Sen. Bernie Sanders, who endorsed Lazer and another Democratic candidate for Congress who lost, Greg Edwards in PA-7.
Lou Barletta: Seems strange for the winner of the Republican primary to run against incumbent US Sen. Bob Casey to wind up here, but Barletta’s win, in addition to not being convincing enough for many observers, also served to illuminate a number of issues that could make his run against Casey, recently ranked as the 10th-most vulnerable incumbent US senator, an unsuccessful one.
Mike Stack: For the first time in Pennsylvania's history, a sitting lieutenant governor lost a re-election bid. Stack fell hard and fast in the year-plus since revelations about his treatment of staffers and questionable spending habits surfaced. And without support from Gov. Tom Wolf, Stack was left to his own devices to fend off four challengers.
It didn't go well. The scion of one of Philadelphia's political dynasties finished in fourth place, far behind nominee John Fetterman.