Pennsylvania is always a state that seems to be on the backburner when it comes to primaries. The state is always at the end of the Presidential primary cycle, which that itself is an issue for another time. This year, with the presidential contests decided and no Senate race, the primaries across the state seem tempered. However, I still do believe that there are some that bear watching once polls close in Pennsylvania come June 2nd.
Will Trump’s chosen pick make it out in PA-07?
In Pennsylvania’s 7th district, Rep. Susan Wild (D-South Whitehall Township) could have the toughest re-election bid of the four freshman women from the eastern area of Pennsylvania. The Lehigh Valley is definitely a swing zone in Pennsylvania, one that both Joe Biden and President Trump will target heavily in the Presidential race. Wild’s opponent will come down to two former Lehigh Valley Commissioners. One is Dean Browning, who came within a single point of being the nominee in 2018. Browning is going up against Lisa Scheller, who got the President’s endorsement this past weekend.
The primary has gotten competitive. Browning has called Scheller a “fake Trump supporter” and has gone on the record saying he would support 100% of the President’s agenda. Scheller has not gone so hard on the rhetoric. She has instead focused on lowering taxes and creating jobs for the Lehigh Valley area. Whoever comes out will likely be damaged, which is why Wild is still a favorite in this race. What I’m watching is whether this race is close like last year or whether Trump’s endorsement of Scheller pushes her way past Browning.
Who gets the GOP nod to take on Matt Cartwright in the most Trumpy Democrat seat?
Pennsylvania’s 8th district tells a slightly similar story to the 7th, with one catch: both Pat Toomey and President Trump won this district in 2016. Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Moosic) has done a good job of toeing the line. He has continued to stay popular in this northeastern district and like Wild, seems to slightly favored for re-election.
On the GOP side, there is one clear favorite. Mike Marsicano, a former mayor of Hazelton who is also a Democrat turned Republican, has etched himself as the likely nominee to take on Cartwright. With his background, Marsicano hopes to bridge the divide and get enough of the swing voters to come to him and propel him to victory. With five other candidates in the primary race, I’m most interested to see where Marsicano’s numbers are at the end of the night. If he gets over 65-70% of the vote, he will be in prime position to make this race competitive. If he gets below that number, Cartwright will likely end up the winner on election night.
Could a local progressive make a race much closer for a row officer and DCCC favorite?
Pennsylvania’s 10th district has become one of the premier swing districts in the state. With the inclusion of Dauphin County and Harrisburg, combined with Republican areas in York and Cumberland, incumbent Scott Perry (R-Dillsburg) once again faces a tough race. It looked to get even tougher when current Auditor General Eugene DePasquale hopped into the Democratic primary.
DePasquale has struggled somewhat, though. Perry has continued to out-raise him so far and DePasquale has struggled to put away Tom Brier. Brier, a progressive lawyer who’s from the area (he grew up in Hershey), has put up a spirited challenge to the Auditor General. He has been able to raise decent funds, has outspent DePasquale throughout the primary so far and is even on the air. Brier is attempting to tap into the progressive base of the Democrats, supporting the Green New Deal and a fracking ban.
While I still don’t believe Brier will win, I’m interested to see where his margin will end up. Brier, who comes from Dauphin, could have a leg up geographically on DePasquale, who hails from York. Brier is banking on a hometown bonus to put himself into contention for this race. If he gets over 35%, I won’t be surprised to see him come back in a future race.
Is Brian Fitzpatrick possibly safe in 2020?
Pennsylvania’s 1st district seems to be the holy grail for Democrats. The seat is competitive on paper, but they just never seem to be able to reach it. After Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown) survived a hard campaign against progressive millionaire Scott Wallace in 2018, it seemed like he would have an easier time come 2020. It has actually turned out like that to the surprise of many.
The former favorite, Debbie Wachpress, decided to drop out after allegations of her using homophobic language came out. This has left Christina Finello as the running Democratic favorite. Finello is a Borough Council member for Ivyland, a town in Bucks County. Finello has struggled to raise any significant funds against Fitzpatrick though. Fitzpatrick has outraged Finello by a near 10-1 margin as of the last FEC update. Those numbers, plus Fitzpatrick’s solid favorability numbers in the district, has put a seat that should be a toss-up into the lean/likely Republican area.
Can a progressive Professor upset a congressional heavyweight in Pittsburgh?
Who will be the Democratic nominee for the open Auditor General’s seat?
I’ve already covered this race in pretty good detail in my last article, so I’ll keep this simple. This is definitely going to be the most interesting primary of the night. The Pennsylvania Auditor General’s office is a toss-up with DePasquale termed out. It’s going to be an interesting map to look at when it’s all said and done. With three legitimate candidates running, all from different areas of the state, it’s going to be interesting to see who comes out on top.
Whether Michael Lamb, Christina Hartman or Nina Ahmad, the Democrats will have a candidate who can raise omen and make the race competitive. This will likely be the longest primary to count votes wise and also likely the longest to count. My biggest interest is whether anyone can get over 40% with six candidates running. If someone like Lamb or Hartman win, they’re in a good spot to keep the office in Democratic hands.
It’s still worthwhile to watch Pennsylvania’s primaries on Tuesday night
There are certainly still some interesting races to watch in Pennsylvania come on the 2nd of June. Across the state, people will make their choices for who will represent their party on the ballot in many key races. It’s still going to be a long and fun night as we take another step towards the 2020 Presidential election.