HARRISBURG — Two of the strongest Republicans in the Pennsylvania Legislature were in real danger of being defeated by right-wing opponents on Wednesday as the vote count continued in the primary election.
State Sen. Pat Browne of Lehigh County had a few dozen votes behind school board member and pilot Jarrett Coleman, while State Rep. Stan Saylor of York County trailed Wendy Jo Fink, who had pledged to eliminate school property taxes.
Both incumbents were attacked for being Harrisburg insiders. Saylor was elected in 1992 and Browne in 2005 after a decade at the State House. They chair the credit committee in their respective chambers. Appropriation committees are the conduit for state budget legislation and play a prominent role in most of the activities of the legislature.
Another longtime Republican in the York County House was also eyeing possible defeat — Rep. Keith Gillespie lagging badly behind Joe D’Orsie, the communications director for an apostolic church. Gillespie was first elected 20 years ago.
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On the Democratic side, 12-year-old incumbent Rep. Pam DeLissio lost to Nurse Tarik Khan in a Philadelphia district.
In Northeast Philadelphia, school district grant compliance comptroller Jimmy Dillon, a Democrat, won a special election for the state Senate. The seat was vacated after Democratic Senator John Sabatina was elected as a judge.
In other notable races, State Rep. Summer Lee, D-Allegheny, won re-election to the Legislature when her congressional primary was too early to call. Lee was neck and neck with attorney Steve Irwin for an open seat in Congress in the Pittsburgh area.
State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Philadelphia, beat fellow incumbent Isabella Fitzgerald after being recut in the same race.
Rep. Ryan Mackenzie defeated Rep. Gary Day in an incumbent Republican primary in Lehigh County’s 187th House District, and there are no Democrats in the fall ballot. In the other battle up, between GOP Representative Perry Stambaugh and Representative Johnathan Hershey in Northwest Harrisburg, Stambaugh held a healthy lead with results too early to call.
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In a suburban Harrisburg neighborhood that was reliably Republican before redistricting, Justin Fleming beat fellow Democrat Eric Epstein. In a sign of how the district has changed, no Republicans are on the fall ballot. And in Philadelphia, former legislative aide Ben Waxman won the Democratic primary for a seat vacated by Rep. Brian Sims, who lost a race for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.
Voters from both parties have chosen Pennsylvania state officials to be their candidates for lieutenant governor this fall. Republicans elected state Rep. Carrie Lewis DelRosso to run with their gubernatorial pick, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, while Democrats gave their gubernatorial nominee, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, his choice for second-in-command, Rep. Austin Davis, on Sims.
DelRosso, in his first term in the General Assembly, prevailed in a nine-candidate race, while Davis easily beat state Representative Brian Sims, whose vigorous campaign could not overcome the Shapiro’s endorsement for Davis. Both DelRosso and Davis are from Allegheny County.
Davis, a McKeesport resident, has been a state representative since 2018 and is a former executive aide to Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, a prominent elected Democrat. DelRosso is a former borough council member who runs a public affairs and marketing firm.
In Pennsylvania, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor are not paired in the primary ballot, but run as a ticket in the fall.
The Lieutenant Governor is the Chairman of the Board of Pardons and presides over sessions of the State Senate.
Pennsylvania voters also voted in primary contests for 17 congressional seats on Tuesday. The state’s delegation to the US House was 18 – nine Democrats and nine Republicans – before one delegate was lost due to 2020 census figures.