Philadelphia Election Preview: Voters to pick governor, U.S. Senate nominees

Election 2022 Senate Pennsylvania Republicans
Kathy Barnette, Mehmet Oz, moderator Greta Van Susteren, Carla Sands, David McCormick, and Jeff Bartos, (left to right) pose for photo before they take part in a debate for Pennsylvania U.S. Senate Republican candidates, Wednesday, May 4, 2022, in Grove City, Pa.
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Pennsylvanians will go to the polls Tuesday to select their party’s nominee in two nationally-watched races for governor and U.S. Senate.

In addition, Philadelphia residents will be voting in primaries for Congress and the state legislature, as well as deciding on several ballot questions and, for those living in one Northeast district, there will be a special election for state senate.

The importance of the election was underlined when the U.S. Supreme Court’s draft opinion, which would overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion decision, was leaked earlier this month.

If a Republican is elected governor and Roe is upended, GOP leaders in Harrisburg would likely attempt to push through legislation limiting or banning abortion.

Since the leak, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the only Democrat on the ballot, has repeatedly said he would veto any such bills. Gov. Tom Wolf, who is term-limited, has refused to sign several pieces of legislation seeking to curb abortion access.

Shapiro, clearly gearing up for November’s general election, marked the opening of a new campaign office Sunday in Doylestown.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh ShapiroMetro file

Tuesday’s intrigue is on the Republican side, where state Sen. Doug Mastriano, fresh off an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, is trying to prove the polls right.

Trump, in a statement Saturday, praised Mastriano for backing the former president’s unfounded claims of election fraud.

Mastriano attended the pro-Trump protests that occurred on Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol, and, as the Associated Press reported, he has been subpoenaed by the Congressional committee investigating the failed insurrection.

Former Congressman Lou Barletta, who has been running second in recent gubernatorial polls, has spent recent days arguing he is best suited to take on Shapiro.

“I look forward to having President Trump’s endorsement Wednesday morning,” Barletta said Saturday in a statement.

Other candidates who have garnered significant support include former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain and Delaware County businessman Dave White.

Conservative political consultant Charlie Gerow, Northampton County doctor Nche Zama and Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale are also on the ballot. State Senate President Jake Corman and Melissa Hart recently pulled out of the race.

For U.S. Senate, in a race to replace the retiring Pat Toomey, polling suggests Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is well ahead of the pack on the Democratic side.

In Fetterman’s final TV ad, released Thursday, the narrator proclaims that he is “taking on every politician, insider and out-of-state rich guy trying to take over Pennsylvania.”

U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Pa., speaks during a meeting of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party State Committee in Harrisburg, Pa., Jan. 29, 2022.AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File

U.S. Rep. Connor Lamb and Philadelphia state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta are second and third in the race, respectively, according to surveys; however, both have received powerful endorsements.

Lamb is backed by the Philadelphia Building Trades Council, Mayor Jim Kenney and the state Democratic Party’s Latino caucus, while Kenyatta has support from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, the Working Families Party and activist Gloria Steinem.

Also running in the Democratic primary is Alex Khalil, a member of Jenkintown Borough Council.

Meanwhile, the Republican Senate race appears to be a toss-up between celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz, conservative commentator Kathy Barnette and former hedge fund manager Dave McCormick.

Oz, in recent days, has decided to come after the surging Barnette. Trump, who endorsed Oz, has also attacked Barnette, saying last week that she “will never be able to win the General Election.”

“Elections are brutal. Politics is a rigorous sport,” Barnette, who lives in Huntingdon Valley, tweeted Saturday. “Good people don’t get into politics because of stuff like this.”

All three leading candidates have sought to distinguish themselves as “America first,” and McCormick recently appeared at an event with U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

Kathy Barnette, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, speaks during a forum in Newtown, Pa., Wednesday, May 11, 2022.AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Others in the crowded GOP field include Montgomery County business owner Jeff Bartos, Philadelphia attorney George Bochetto, lawyer Sean Gale and former U.S. ambassador Carla Sands.

With Fetterman leaving at the end of his term, a combined total of 12 candidates from both major parties are seeking to become the next lieutenant governor.

Shapiro has been campaigning alongside state Rep. Austin Davis, who faces fellow Democrats Ray Sosa, a Montgomery County civic leader, and Philadelphia state Rep. Brian Sims.

On the Republican side, the hopefuls are school advocate Clarice Schillinger, veteran and businessman James Earl Jones, former state Rep. Rick Saccone, Northampton County Councilman John Brown, New Castle Mayor Chris Frye, former state Rep. Jeff Coleman, state Rep. Russ Diamond, state Rep. Carrie Lewis DelRosso and veteran Teddy Daniels.

U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, a Democrat, is being challenged in the primary by progressive advocate Alexandra Hunt and political organizer Michael Cogbill.

The two other House members representing Philadelphia, Brendan Boyle and Mary Gay Scanlon, are running unopposed in the primary.

A pair of special elections are being held to fill seats in Northeast Philadelphia.

State Rep. Mike Driscoll is leaving Harrisburg to replace City Councilman Bobby Henon, who resigned following his conviction on federal corruption charges. Driscoll is running unopposed.

Meanwhile, in the state senate’s 5th district, Democrat Jimmy Dillon, a grant compliance officer for city schools and a basketball coach, is facing Republican real estate agent and professional fighter Sam Oropeza.

As far as state legislative races, Democratic Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams is running for reelection against teacher and union organizer Paul Prescod in the 8th district, which covers parts of West Philadelphia and Delaware County.

Democratic voters in 10 city-based state house districts will also vote in competitive primaries.

All registered voters, regardless of party affiliation, can weigh in on four Philadelphia ballot questions on Tuesday.

The first, and perhaps most controversial, question would expand the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment from five to seven members, all of whom would be approved by City Council.

Under the proposal, the ZBA, which votes on zoning variances that affect property development, would include an urban planner, an architect, a zoning attorney, a construction professional and at least two community leaders.

Currently, there are no specific qualifications and all five positions are appointed by the mayor.

Opponents of the change characterize the question as a power grab by Council, while supporters believe it will give neighbors a greater say in construction projects.

Two other questions deal with gendered language in the city’s home rule charter, changing words like firemen and policemen to firefighters and police officers.

The final question would enshrine the Fair Housing Commission, which handles landlord-tenant issues, into the city charter, making it a permanent independent body.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. To find your voting location, go to www.pavoterservices.pa.gov and click on “Find Your Polling Place.”

Anyone with a mail-in ballot who has not yet submitted their vote should place it in one of the city’s 17 dropboxes. All ballots must be received by the City Commissioners Office by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Dropboxes are located at City Hall (south side), Riverview Place (540 N. Columbus Boulevard), Eastern State Penitentiary, Markward Playground, Pelbano Recreation Center, Ford PAL Recreation Center, Smith Playground, Vogt Recreation Center, Independence Branch Library, Dorothy Emanuel Recreation Center, Pleasant Playground, Shissler, Chalfont Playground, Stenton Playground, Shepard Recreation Center, Kendrick Recreation Center and the election warehouse at 11311 Roosevelt Boulevard.

Officials will also be holding an in-person ballot collecting event Monday from 4 to 6 p.m. at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Holmesburg.

Voters can only drop off their own ballot unless someone else who is physically unable to submit their ballot fills out a form designating them as a delivery agent.

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