Philly Election Results: Progressive incumbents beat party-backed challengers

election results
Campaign signs outside Lovett Memorial Library in Mount Airy.
Jack Tomczuk

Though the national attention Tuesday night and Wednesday was on the primaries for U.S. Senate and Pennsylvania governor, many Philadelphians were keeping their eye on competitive Democratic races for state representative.

Pennsylvania’s House districts average about 65,000 residents — in the city, they usually cover just a couple of neighborhoods, meaning candidates who live mere blocks apart can be pitted against each other on the ballot.

Three progressive incumbents fairly easily fended off challenges from contenders backed by Philadelphia’s Democratic Party.

State Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler appears destined for a third term representing part of South Philadelphia after pulling three times as many votes as small business owner Michael Giangiordano, according to preliminary results.

“The people of South Philly showed in this election that they value hard work, vision, and kindness,” Fiedler said on social media. “And that the decision of a few who want to control us and bully us, doesn’t have to determine our future and doesn’t rule our politics.”

She will be heavily favored in November against Republican nominee Marilyn Murray.

In West Philadelphia, state Rep. Rick Krajewski will run unopposed in the general election after defeating the party-endorsed candidate, James Wright. Data from the City Commissioners indicate Krajewski garnered around 70% of the vote.

“We showed that our movement is powerful and can’t be bought out or weakened by flimsy attacks,” Krajewski tweeted following the election.

State Rep. Isabella Fitzgerald will be leaving Harrisburg after falling to progressive state Rep. Chris Rabb, whose vote tally topped 60%. The two were grouped into the same Northwest Philadelphia area during the redistricting process.

Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, which endorsed Rabb, Krajewski and Fieldler, said in a statement that their victories show “our message and our fight clearly resonate with voters.”

Not all of those who ran with the support of the local Democratic party disappointed on primary night.

State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams emerged as the nominee in his race against organizer Paul Prescod, who was backed by the PFT, the Working Families Party and Reclaim Philadelphia.

“This campaign wasn’t just about one election cycle,” Prescod wrote on social media. “Regardless of the outcome, the pressing issues facing working people cannot be addressed during one election.”

Williams, who, according to preliminary numbers, won 56% of the votes, will not be opposed by a Republican in November.

Cass Green, who received endorsements from District Attorney Larry Krasner and Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, among others, appears to have come up short in her bid to upset incumbent state Rep. Amen Brown in West Philadelphia.

Brown, through Wednesday afternoon, led Green by about 275 votes. Sajda “Purple” Blackwell finished third with about 23% of the tally.

In the 201st District, state Rep. Stephen Kinsey came out ahead of Andre Carroll, who received the backing of state Sen. Nikil Saval and City Councilmember Kendra Brooks.

Voters in Northeast Philadelphia chose a new state senator, picking Democrat Jimmy Dillon over Republican Sam Oropeza. Dillon, whose brother was initially the party’s candidate, got around 54% of the vote to Oropeza’s 46%.

“I will bring our values to Harrisburg to fight for safer communities, better opportunities for working families and fair funding for our schools,” Dillon said in a statement.

John Sabatina Jr. left the seat open after being elected as a Court of Common Pleas judge.

State Rep. Mike Driscoll ran unopposed in Philadelphia’s only other special election, to replace City Councilman Bobby Henon in the Northeast. Henon was convicted of federal bribery charges.

In the Democratic primary to fill Driscoll’s seat in Harrisburg, Pat Gallagher, who worked in Driscoll’s office, beat out teacher and ward leader Pete McDermott, with Gallagher getting about 64% of the vote.

Elsewhere in the Northeast, state Rep. Kevin Boyle earned a sizable victory over challenger Bob Stewart, a former journalist and Sabatina staffer.

Anthony Bellmon, who worked as an adviser to U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, won a three-person race in a newly-created district covering Lawncrest, Lawndale and parts of Olney. Heather Miller and Yusuf Jackson finished second and third, according to preliminary election returns.

Tarik Khan, a nurse, successfully challenged state Rep. Pamela DeLissio, garnering about 60% of the tally against the incumbent in the Northwest Philadelphia-based district.

Former journalist and Krasner staffer Ben Waxman, who was backed by the city party, emerged from a four-person Democratic primary in Center City, winning an impressive 41% of the vote. State Rep. Brian Sims stepped down from the post to run for lieutenant governor.

Meanwhile, in the 3rd Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans pulled in 76% of ballots — holding a 60,000-vote advantage over Alexandra Hunt, whose personal story as a former stripper generated headlines.

Hunt received just under 20% of votes, and a third candidate, Michael Cogbill, got around 4%.

Philadelphians approved all four ballot questions, including a proposal to expand the zoning board and grant City Council the power to approve the mayor’s nominees to the board.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment will now have seven members, instead of five, and include an urban planner, an architect, a zoning attorney, a construction professional and at least two community leaders.

In-person voting went smoothly, and no arrests have been made relating to the election, said Jane Roh, a spokesperson for the DA’s Office.

The DA’s Election Task Force looked into 18 complaints, most of which were deemed unfounded or resolved peacefully at the polling location, Roh said.

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