Pennsylvania has gone and had its primary. At the time of me writing this, most races have been called while some are still up in the air because of the necessity to count all the mail in ballots. It was for all purposes, a fun night. Many of the contested primaries were close and gives us some interesting insight to what the general elections could look like.
The GOP get their woman in PA-07
Once again we got treated to another close GOP primary in this Lehigh Valley-based district, and once again Dean Browning came up short. In what was a tight race, Trump-endorsed candidate Lisa Scheller won by a 4-point margin in Tuesday’s primary race. This was definitely a victory for the GOP, not just in the sense the they not only got the candidate that they believe will be stronger against incumbent Susan Wild but also because they nominated a woman, something that the party has been trying to do better at since the 2018 midterms.
It’s still unknown how well Scheller will fare up against Wild. While this is certain to be one of the closest districts in Pennsylvania (Clinton won these lines by about 1% in 2016), Wild is generally popular. Scheller does have a very good backstory (she is a reformed heroin user who built up a business that hires those recovering from addiction) and has name recognition from Lehigh County, the largest district. Overall, I do think that some are overlooking this district a tad, but I still see Wild coming out on top here. Scheller will improve on Marty Nottenstien’s 10 point loss here though.
An outsider and former cop nearly pulls the upset in PA-08
When you would talk to people about the GOP primary in Pennsylvania’s 8th district, they would usually mention three names as those most likely to take on Matt Cartwright. Jim Bognet; a former Trump administration member, Earl Granville; who had the endorsement of house GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and Mike Marsicano; the Democrat turned Republican former mayor of Hazelton. As votes were being tallied on election night, a different name suddenly came into the mix.
Teddy Daniels, a former police officer, made this race much more fun to watch, as he slowly crept up the standings as the Election Day vote came in. By the time we hit midnight, Daniels had gone back and forth with Bognet for 1st place. In fact, it seemed for a time that Daniels might be able to pull this out and those of us calling races here at Elections Daily were making preparations to call the race for Daniels. News then proceeded to come out that Lackawanna and Luzerne counties had not yet tabulated their mail in ballots.
Those mail in ballots, especially from Luzerne County where Bognet doubled Daniels vote count, gave Jim Bognet the victory. This gives the GOP a little more hope in this swing district as Daniels was criminally underfunded for a general election campaign with only $30k in cash on hand. Bognet will go into the general still way behind Cartwright in terms of fundraising, but with a better COH total of around $300k. Cartwright is still well favored in this race and I don’t see it flipping this year.
A young progressive gives the DCCC a small scare in PA-10
Eugene DePasquale was the great success for the Pennsylvania democrats this year. While I’m sure they wished that success was based in PA-01, taking down one of the most right-wing members of Pennsylvania’s GOP was something to dream about. DePasquale was the perfect candidate to take on Scott Perry. He was a known entity as the states Auditor General. He’s from York, which could help cut into Perry’s margins in that county, crucial for a democratic victory. He would cruise through the primary and be able to face Perry head on, with unbeatable fundraising numbers and upwards momentum.
Except, that isn’t what happened. As I had mentioned in a previous article, local attorney Tom Brier looked to be putting up a good fight. Having grown up in Hershey, Brier was running the usual progressive firebrand campaign. Going heavy on topics like the Green New Deal, banning fracking and a $15 minimum wage. Brier wasn’t like other progressive campaigns we have seen burn out through this primary season though. Not only did he have decent fundraising that allowed him to outspend DePasquale in the primary and get on the air, but he had a sense of legitimacy among the people of his district. He wasn’t some transplant from New York or Massachusetts, he was a local kid who was just trying to do some good.
Brier’s early results showed that his campaigning had paid off. Not only had he done well in his home county of Dauphin, he also had a lead in Cumberland County. It was becoming obvious the DePasquale would need a huge margin out of his home county. He got it.
Once ballots dropped from York County, DePasquale got his huge advantage. With all election day and mail-in ballots counted already, DePasquale got 81% of the primary vote in his home county, skyrocketing him to near certain victory. Brier was able to keep the margin down as more of Dauphin has come in, which isn’t expected to be fully finished before Tuesday. Brier certainly gave the DCCC a scare early on Tuesday and he ran an impressive campaign even in the eyes of the conservative writing this analysis. PA-10 is still one of the closest races in the state his fall, but DePasquale goes into that fight weaker than he expected to be.
The Auditor General primary
I’m not going to go into too much detail about the Auditor General primary on the Democratic side. The numbers and storylines coming out of that race will deserve its own article coming soon. I’m going to wait until all the votes are counted there to write any in depth analysis, so here are the bare bones. Elections Daily has called the race for Nina Ahmad, who holds a narrow lead over Michael Lamb with most of the outstanding votes coming from southeast Pennsylvania, where she has performed strongly.
It was a fun and interesting night in Pennsylvania, and I’m appreciative that so many counties got their ballots counted in a quick and efficient way. I think a balance between in person and mail ballots can be found and primary day 2020 proves that in Pennsylvania.