PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — The results are in from Tuesday’s Primary Election.
Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner was nominated for another term.
She fended off a challenge by the guy who used to have the job, Mark Patrick Flaherty.
He had the support of Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.
In the City of Pittsburgh controller’s race, incumbent Michael Lamb was nominated for a third term, defeating city Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak.
Rudiak lost despite having the support of Mayor Bill Peduto.
Also, Allegheny County Councilwoman Barbara Daly Danko was nominated for another term, posthumously. She died of cancer earlier this month.
Democratic Committee members in Danko’s Council District will choose the nominee to run in November.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Democrats and Republicans demonstrated Tuesday that party endorsements count as they nominated four party-backed candidates for the state Supreme Court.
Democrats nominated both of their endorsees – Philadelphia Judge Kevin Dougherty and Superior Court Judge David Wecht – and Superior Court Judge Christine Donohue, although she had not been endorsed because the party could not muster enough votes for a third endorsement.
Republicans picked Superior Court Judge Judy Olson, Adams County Judge Mike George and Commonwealth Court Judge Anne Covey, all backed by the GOP state committee.
Dougherty waged an aggressive TV advertising campaign with $1.4 million raised mainly from labor organizations, lawyers and businesses. His brother is the business manager of the Philadelphia local of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, a generous supporter.
Wecht, who’s based in Pittsburgh, trailed Dougherty in fundraising with $900,000 in contributions. He’s a former Allegheny County judge and the son of pathologist Cyril Wecht, whose inquiries into the deaths of well-known figures such as Elvis Presley gained him national fame.
Donohue was elected to the Superior Court in 2007, following a 27-year career as a trial lawyer and litigator in Pittsburgh. Her campaign raised $339,000.
Olson, who’s from the Pittsburgh area, spent 24 years as a lawyer and had a brief stint as an Allegheny County judge before being elected to the Superior Court in 2009. Her campaign raised $119,000.
George, a former prosecutor before he was elected as judge in 2002, was the most successful fundraiser among the Republicans, thanks to a $500,000 contribution from a businessman friend that pushed his total to $590,000.
Covey, whose public profile was boosted by her handling of a lawsuit stemming from the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal that was settled after the NCAA withdrew the last of its sanctions against Penn State, spent 24 years in private practice before she was elected to the appellate bench in 2011.
Voters were reducing a field of 12 state Supreme Court candidates by half, setting the stage for a high-stakes, big-spending showdown that could flip partisan control of the state’s highest court for the first time in six years.
The three top vote-getters in each party will compete as the nominees for an unprecedented three open seats in the Nov. 3 general election.
The nomination races for Supreme Court and one open seat each on the Superior and Commonwealth courts were the only statewide election contests this year, but voters were also choosing nominees for a large number of local judgeships, municipal offices and school board seats.
The other Democratic candidates for Supreme Court were Superior Court Judge Anne Lazarus, Jefferson County Judge John Foradora and Allegheny County Judge Dwayne Woodruff.
The other Republican candidates were Supreme Court Justice Correale Stevens, Superior Court Judge Cheryl Allen and Montour County District Attorney Rebecca Warren.
The candidates’ campaigns raised about $5 million in the primary, and the general election phase is expected to unleash a flood of cash from outside interest groups.
The hopefuls made frequent public appearances across the state, and most aired TV ads to build name recognition, ever mindful of ethical rules that bar judicial candidates from personally soliciting money or endorsements or making promises about what they would do if elected.
All the candidates emphasized the need for ethics reform in the judiciary.
Two of the open seats are the result of resignations by disgraced justices – a Republican convicted of corruption for using state-paid staff to do political work and a Democrat implicated in a pornographic email scandal. The other vacancy resulted from the retirement of former Chief Justice Ronald Castille after he reached the mandatory retirement age of 70.
Republicans have held a 4-3 majority on the court since 2010. The court’s partisan makeup is rarely an issue in the court’s day-to-day business, but it can stand out in situations such as appeals of legislative redistricting plans. Republicans hold comfortable majorities in both houses of the Legislature.
Supreme Court justices are elected to 10-year terms and receive annual salaries that are currently $203,409.
Also, Judge Alice Beck Dubow beat Allegheny County Judge Robert Colville, who had vowed not to accept any campaign donations.
Dubow’s victory was one of two nomination contests being settled by Democrats for open seats on intermediate-level appellate courts.
Seeking nominations for the vacancy on the Commonwealth Court were Scranton labor lawyer Todd Eagen and Pittsburgh lawyer Michael Wojcik.
The 15-member Superior Court handles criminal and most civil appeals of cases from the county courts. The nine-member Commonwealth Court processes civil cases brought against or by the state government and decides appeals from county courts in cases involving state and local agencies.
Dubow, whose mother was the first woman elected to the Superior Court, emphasized her diverse experience as a lawyer for 23 years before she joined the Philadelphia bench in 2007. Colville was elected as a judge eight years out of law school.
Colville, who has been a judge for 15 years, promised not to accept any outside money in his campaign to protest the expanding role of money in judicial campaigns. He also serves as a judge on the state Court of Judicial Discipline, which adjudicates cases involving judges charged with misconduct.
As of May 8, Colville had reported no campaign contributions and nearly $11,000 in debt because of campaign expenses. Dubow, who had raised more than $370,000, said fundraising was crucial to getting her message out to voters.
A state bar panel that evaluates judicial candidates rated Colville as “highly recommended” and Dubow as “recommended.”
The Commonwealth Court race was between two experienced lawyers from opposite sides of the state.
Eagen, who was endorsed by the state Democratic Party, is the grandson of a former state Supreme Court justice and runs the Scranton office of a statewide law firm. Wojcik, the son of a coal miner, is a former Allegheny County solicitor and serves as senior counsel in the Pittsburgh office of private law firm. Both men received “recommended” ratings by the bar panel.
The Republican candidates for both seats were unopposed for the nominations: Northampton County Judge Emil Giordano for Superior Court and Pittsburgh lawyer Paul Lalley for Commonwealth Court.
The general election is Nov. 3.
Like all Pennsylvania appellate judges, those on the Superior and Commonwealth court are elected to 10-year terms. The current salary for judges on both courts is $191,926.
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